Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten, Nollaig Shona Duit, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Boldog Karácsonyt …


            In a few short days, it’ll be Christmas. That’s hard to believe since the decorations went up in the stores shortly after Labor Day so it feels as if it’s been Christmas for months. In truth, it only starts to feel like Christmas for me around the fifteenth of December, which also happens to be my birthday.

            When I grew up, I was always made aware that since Christmas was ten days away from my birthday, we’d simply make this a combo day. What this meant was that my birthday was a bit slighted, what with the impending Christmas bounty and revelry only a few days away. I may have resented this when I was little, back when the whole kid world revolved around birthdays, but I grew to like it. I still prcardboard fireplaceefer not to make a big deal out of my birthday, but it does explain why I use the fifteenth as my personal kick-off to Christmas. It’s ingrained in me to gear up right around then.

            Back then, the tree went up on the weekend nearest the fifteenth, the cardboard fireplace (with the orange seven watt light bulb that illuminated the realistic cardboard flames) went on the back wall and the garland was wrapped around the railing. The backside of the front door was already covered with Christmas cards, as they would arrive daily, seemingly by the dozen. Mom made cookies and of course, there was fudge. Fudge was as common as decorative ashtrays and galoshes back then, and if a house lacked a plate of fudge on the coffee table, it may as well have been without electricity or plumbing. By the sixteenth or so, we were in full-blown holiday mode, which lasted until New Year’s Day when it all came down. By then, the floor had more needles than the tree and it was best to get it outside before it shot up into flames. It should be noted that our Christmas tree stand did not hold water, so the poor dissected thing didn’t have a prayer of lasting longer than two weeks.

            For the past two years, we didn’t decorate at all around here. Not even a tree. Circumstances got in the way, as they sometimes do, but we went out with our daughter and her husband this year and we each cut down a nice tree. We set it up on the back porch, so this way, we could see it from the house and it would still look pretty, albeit outside. That lasted about ten minutes.

“Why don’t you bring it inside?” Mrs. G. asked. I hadn’t put a fresh cut on it, so it all had to come apart so it could come indoors. We stood it up in the same corner it always went, but after the lights went on, we decided to move it to the front of the house, next to the staircase. It fit perfectly, and the decorations were scaled way back and that was that. New traditions, new location. Simpler decorating. Next year, we’re going all in with an artificial tree. Funny how thing change.

            On Christmas morning, I’ll get up and look around and likely think about Christmases past when our daughter would bounce out of her bedroom and head straight to the tree to see what Santa had left for her. Those years slipped away quickly, and Christmas morning is a lot quieter these days. What’s happening now is, in some ways, nicer as the days forward and back of Christmas day are now filled with parties, get-togethers, and visits. My daughter has her own house now and has taken over the tradition of massive decorating and hosting. It’s been more fun for my wife and me to watch her grow into this than do it ourselves. I can’t describe the feeling, but it’s pretty great.

Oh, I almost forgot. We bought a full-sized leg lamp, same as the one in the movie A Christmas Story. It’s in our front window. I mean, how fantastic is that?

            So from our household to yours, Merry Christmas to all and a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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