Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Here comes Christmas

Christmas and the holiday season are upon us.  All of the seasonal traditions need to be considered.  What's important now?  What will we enjoy and what will be unnecessary work?  What will others appreciate and what will just be overdone or silly?

These are not trivial questions at a time when all messages tell us that it should be a time of celebration and joy.  Do we want to make sure that we participate in the traditions but still avoid the anxiety of living up to the past?  Of course. We may be in good shape this year.

The Christmas front door wreath has not only been ordered but was received yesterday.  It sits in its box in the garage awaiting a day without rain to enjoy putting up this official declaration to the world that yes, the Borden residence is aware that it is the Christmas season.  What we do is the absolute minimum around here.  When my late parents would come here for the holidays and I would take them out for a drive to look at "the lights", my father would always say on each turn down a new street, "they really go all out here".  "They" do.

Christmas cards have been ordered and are in the house as well, but if the past is any guide that does not guarantee that they will be sent in a timely way or at all.  To avoid procrastination to the point of inaction, the plan is to begin writing out addresses and crossing off a list this weekend, knowing that finding addresses and writing them neatly enough for the post office to recognize will be a multi-day task.  The reliance on e-mail seemingly has a ruinous impact on penmanship.  If this task is accomplished, the goal would be to then write something in the related cards, chosen from three different new types this year to avoid the risk of sending last year's card or one from another previous year to the same person.  No duplicates this year from this house, you can count on that if this job gets done.  Then there is the challenge, meant to be overcome, of writing something in the card other than our names and other than an additional "Best for the New Year" to the card's own "Season Greetings" or "Merry Christmas".  That can really baffle a sender who has not seen some of the usual recipients for a decade or more.  It must be faced.  People like to receive cards still, I think, especially if they say something, anything.  For many years we had a custom of ringing the foyer doors with cards.  If we could receive enough cards this year to ring a single foyer door that would be better than last year.  I should note, call us old fashioned, that e-cards don't do it.  Less cards are sent now, and when one misses a year as has been done here, the returns diminish.  Then there is the problem of the "greatest generation"  that faithfully sent cards, and they are less in number and those around at times don't have the handwriting or vision to keep up the practice.  All the more reason to make sure that they receive cards if addresses can be found.

Enough on cards.  Now we get to that most famous tradition of all, the Christmas Tree.  It is admitted that that we have deferred on that one for the past few years.  The first year that we missed younger daughter did put a pencil drawing of one on the window before which the tree always stood, but that was not much of a substitute, although it was a clear message.  The entire process of buying a tree, setting it up and littering the foyer and living room with pine needles and small branches, and then decorating the tree was for many years mostly a joy.  Christmas songs by Elvis, Koko Taylor, BB King, Mojo Nixon and others were played for the event, as well as a cassette or two of the traditional ones, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, etc.  Seasonal beverages kept the process merry and children participated to a great extent, then to a lesser extent, then not at all even though they still wanted a darn tree.  Here today, I could still get into the mood for that whole event and having a festive tree in place for a few weeks.  What can't be conceived of is the opposite of that which is taking the tree down, repacking and storing the ornaments and cleaning up.  That is a tedium that is not needed at the moment.  If there is ever a need for this tradition to be revived boxes in a basement closet will have what is necessary.

Except for young children, almost everyone it seems is perfectly happy to not feel the reciprocal obligation of giving presents.  Young adults like money.  We still buy some presents and take our chances, and often do fairly well, but most of it is purchased online now or through mail order special food items.  How efficient that is and what great choices can be found without leaving the house or carrying bags through crowds.  The majority of that shopping is now done or planned and it's only December 3rd.  Thoughts will continue to come but don't need to be acted on unless they are compelling.  Relax on presents!

The one completely open ended tradition is Christmas or Christmas Eve dinner.  The major feast is not practical unless the table is surrounded by people.  Plans are not yet set and it is no rush.  The cooking and cleaning up after a big meal is not too much fun unless everyone hangs around.  We are flexible and await information.  No matter what, cooking is enjoyed here whether it is small amounts or larger, but not too large.  Good meals will happen, maybe not turkey but good cuts of steak or grilled fresh fish are able substitutes. We are free to serve cornbread stuffing with anything.

Finally there is the holiday tradition of charitable giving.  Whether that is due to the end of the tax year approaching and the realization that deductions make donation power much greater or due to the opening of one's heart due to the season is unclear, but it is a tradition and that too is already underway.  It's hard to mess that up.

Now about those cards...    



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