I think of Christmas as part magic and part mayhem, some fun and some frenzy, a bit sentimental and a bit sassy. I have a jumble of thoughts on this holiday season, so I’m just throwing them out there for you — like spaghetti on a wall. It’s entirely possible this sounds like the ying and yang of your holiday too.
First, those pesky holiday cards
I’m not very good at looking back and summing up a year, which probably explains my love/hate relationship with Christmas letters. (Do you really want to know how many species your bird-watching friends have identified in the last year or the win/loss record of your cousin’s pickle ball team? If so, perhaps I should share the complete inventory of our 187 moving boxes, Okay — this is the sassy/snarky part of my holiday vibe.) Of course I want to know my friends and family are well, happy and enjoying life. I love knowing what they’ve been doing and it’s wonderful to learn that they’ve acquired new passions, But sometimes there’s just too much information!
On the other hand, I am disappointed to open a card from someone I only hear from at this time of year and there is no message. It can be as simple as “I’m retired and playing tennis again. The kids are good — how are yours?” It’s one of those niceties that we often skip in the holiday rush, but what’s the point if you’re just signing “Marge & Bill” once a year and then moving on? The same goes for the generic family newsletter. In my mind, holiday newsletter etiquette requires at least one handwritten sentence on the bottom. “We missed you at the class reunions” or “Looking forward to seeing you on the beach this summer” go a long way.
Obviously, I’ve puzzled over this card business a lot.
Everyone’s talking about the weather…
But nobody did anything about it.
Mother Nature threw some serious curve balls at all of us this season. I hope you weathered the storms well. On December 23rd, instead of lords leaping or maids milking, the holiday storm that was wreaking havoc across the country dropped a few inches of snow on Columbus, complicated by blizzard-force winds and temperatures well below zero. As former Chicagoans, we were tempted to shrug it off, but snow removal was a bit problematic in our 55-plus community. Most of us moved here looking forward to having snow shoveled (and grass mowed). Except it turns out the company that does this closed for Christmas. Really! There was also a glitch in the contract (isn’t there always a glitch in the contract?)
I foolishly made a comment about this on our local FaceBook page – which may or may not have included the word “preposterous” — and was quickly chastised for discussing an inappropriate topic. (As my neighbor observed, only rainbows and butterflies on FB.) We’ll be talking about the snowstorm for years to come, but definitely not on FB.
How was my holiday? I’m so glad you asked.
For the first time in a handful of years, we had all of our family plus a few special guests around the Christmas table. (Actually, it took two tables to seat us, but that made it more fun.) If you have had big holidays and small holidays, at your house or elsewhere, you know what I mean. They’re all happy, but it is especially nice to have everyone in one place. To have the boys improvise a curling game in the hall, to read off the corny jokes from the Christmas crackers and to retell the same holiday stories. I understand now why my grandmother continued to host holidays into her eighties and why there was always room for one more cousin or neighbor at her table on any occasion.
Christmas is the season we share ourselves. Steve and I hosted that holiday party for decades until Covid cut us off so we could share the holiday with friends and neighbors. It’s why we joined neighbors here to host a holiday party for our whole community. It’s why all of us eagerly reach out to donate toys and food.
I love the week after Christmas
When I was a child the week after Christmas was reserved for visits with the friends and more distant family we did not see on the day. When I was older, it was also time for shopping the Christmas sales and spending some Christmas cash. Now I think of it as quiet time, reading a new book, enjoying the tree, maybe cooking something new or going out for a special lunch. For me it’s a long, deep, cleansing breath after the holiday.
And now I need to think about how I’m going to squeeze all the Christmas decor back into its bins. It’s always a mystery to me.
Thanks for stopping by. See you again soon.