Friday, December 20, 2013

Encore: Deck the Halls

Because I'm still not back to 100%, I'm going to repeat a post I did back in 2007. Most of you weren't reading my blog then (it was still on MySpace!), so it will be new to you. For those who have seen it before, it's been a while, so please don't send me lumps of coal! And be sure you check out all the cool blogs listed on my sidebar, like William's photoblog--which, coincidentally, has the same title as mine today--Gayle's Square Dog Friday post featuring Hamish in an elf hat, and London Lulu's Christmas blog!


I love Christmas. I love the big dinners and the music and the presents and the family all together for that one special day. Most of all I love the real reason for Christmas. I love knowing that 2000 years ago, God came to earth to live among us, to know us and to save us. I love thinking about what that first Christmas must have been like, and being able to see it so clearly in my own mind. 

I don't love so much of what Christmas has become: angry people on the roads and in the malls, pushing and shoving, jostling for position in the lines for the most popular gift items. I don't love crowds and high-pressured sales pitches and lazy bums who prefer to steal someone else's money and/or gifts instead of working for their own. 

I was at the mall last Christmas. It was funny, actually--as I went from one store to another, a young man attempted to charm his way to a sale: arms outstretched, big smile, big tube of very expensive lotion in hand in a bid to convince me I could not live without that lotion. Little did he know. I changed lanes, moving to the other side of the aisle, and that big smile instantly vanished. I can only imagine what I was called in that disappointing moment! 

Then there was the turkey who attempted to help himself to my cash. I felt his hand the minute it hit the zipper on my messenger bag. I came down hard on the trespassing hand. "If you want to keep that, buddy, you'd better take it back NOW." 

I think he had an accident, if you know what I mean. 

I don't love that there are some who want to celebrate Christmas even though they don't believe in God, in Jesus. And I'm not referring to religions other than Christianity. Our Jewish friends celebrate Hannukah. Our Muslim neighbors have their holy days. I don't know much about other religions, but I'm sure they have theirs as well. gripe is with atheists, the real party poopers. They don't believe in God, don't believe that he came to live in our world as the infant Jesus, but they want the holiday anyway. They want to say the more politically correct "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" so they can have all of the fun without belonging to the club. 

I wonder how they explain to their kids what they're celebrating? "Oh, we're celebrating Daddy being sober for a whole year!" 

I say to them, don't celebrate a holiday if you don't believe in it. Too bad, Mr. and Ms. Grinch. No presents for you. 

My cousin Jeff, who grew up with us, is a Jehovah's Witness. They don't celebrate holidays or birthdays. My father always said Jeff became a Witness not because he really believed in their doctrine, but because he was just plain cheap and didn't want to have to buy any gifts. Jeff bristled every year when we put up our Christmas tree. He thought we should give up our tree because HE didn't believe in it. He claimed we were worshipping the tree, of all things! Dad couldn't resist--when he'd see Jeff's truck pull up in front of the house, he told us to get down on our knees and bow to the tree when Dipstick came through the door. 

Mom complained that was a little hard on the knees. 

Christmas was always a big deal for Mom and Dad, and it's at this time of the year that I miss them most. (Dad's been gone 16 years now, and Mom 9.) They were always like a couple of kids in their unabashed enthusiasm. They'd spend weeks preparing, shopping for gifts and trying to hide them from us. We were never allowed to put the tree up until Christmas Eve, and it was always the same: we'd get some form of takeout so Mom wouldn't have to cook--she'd begin preparing our Christmas dinner that night and couldn't deal with TWO meals at once. We'd watch a rerun of A Christmas Carol on TV--always the 1938 black-and-white version. 

Once the tree was up and completely decorated, the gifts would start to appear from their hiding places. They would be placed under the tree and Dad would do a count to make sure everyone had an equal number of packages. There was never one gift per person, always at least 7 or 8, usually 10. 

I remember one year Mom was a package short. Dad quickly remedied the problem with cash. He didn't want her to know it was cash, of course, so he wrapped it around a roll of toilet paper. Mom knew it probably wasn't just TP--Dad was notorious for gag gifts. He could be very creative in his gift-giving. His Christmas tradition was a little weird: instead of a lump of coal, the unfortunate target of his ire would get a beautifully-wrapped box of poop. 

I kid you not. POOP. Usually of the canine variety. I remember one Christmas when I was in college, he actually mailed the poop to a friend who was living in Tennessee at the time. I held my breath until it was received, wondering what would happen if postal inspectors happened to open the darned thing! 

I miss those good old days. 

Collin and I are making new traditions, new memories. Collin has never been good at keeping a secret--it's like lying. He didn't get that gene, for which I am grateful. 

Trouble is, I will know every gift he's giving me BEFORE Christmas. The Christmas before Dad died, he wanted a self-propelling lawn mower. He had a bad heart (only in the physical sense) and was having trouble using his old mower. To haul it in Mom's Escort, we'd have to put the back seat down, so we left Collin, then 11 years old, with Dad while we went to get it. All of our plans to sneak the thing into the back yard to hide it were, as it turned out, unnecessary--Dad came to the front door when we arrived, grinning from ear to ear. I knew immediately that my darling son had ratted me out. 

I miss those days.

(Credits: cartoons are all from



  1. I can just imagine Jeff's facial expression!

    Good Christmas memories, Norma!

  2. Aw, those are wonderful family memories. I love the holidays for those. The older I get, the more frustrated I get with Christmas cuz of all the commercialism. It just seems out of hand. I feel a lot like Cindy Lou in The Grinch, wondering what it's all for.But I still love the spirit of Christmas and the carols and lights and cookies!
    I come from a very conservative Christian family. But it's protestant, so we never celebrated Christmas as the birth of our savior. Not cuz we're cheap, but cuz it's originally a Catholic designated holiday, and no official proof of Dec. 25 being the date of Christ's birth exists. That's why we don't celebrate it religiously, but we attend church every Sunday to commemorate Christ's death.
    I know it sounds weird--especially to my in-laws who are Catholic, but it is what it is. I still appreciate the fact so many celebrate the birth of Jesus,of course. Like I said, ours is a protestant faith, so it's different.
    Here's wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas full of magical new memories! ((Hugs))

    1. Actually, PK, Biblical archaeologists have determined that Christ was actually born sometime in the spring.

      Not weird. Each faith has its own customs.

  3. That moment with Jeff would've been priceless! Those are lovely Christmas memories, your parents knew how to create moments to last a lifetime. Best wishes to you and yours for Christmas! (Thank you for the sweet mention:)

    1. We had a lot of them. My parents went all out at Christmas. When I was a kid, our living room looked like a toy store on Christmas morning!

  4. I remember several of these stories. And I love your Dad. Get down on your knees and pray to the tree ! Your Dad was a hoot.
    Wonderful Christmas memories.

    We have change our traditions. We now cook Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, Spend all day cooking, laughing and having fun. Then we eat dinner. So now on Christmas day we have dinner already made. Just a quick warm up.
    Now we get ready for a 4pm phone call from son and family on Skype from Japan and we see Mia open her gifts, Then we all open the gift we have sent to each other. So we get to see Japanese Family on their Christmas morning.
    On Christmas day we have brunch and open our gift to each other.
    It is a perfect two days.
    We watch movies, play with The Square Ones and just have a nice day.

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Now that's a good way to do it--all the grunt work the day before!

  5. What a funny thing to do to your Uncle Jeff.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  6. Here's to you and yours creating lovely and wonderful new memories for this holiday season.

    Wishing you a peaceful Christmas full of love and joy and happiness.

    Take care


Spammers and scammers will be deleted.