Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Long Holiday

Christmas is over; it ended for me on Saturday, January 9th. I know that sounds ridiculous, but our last Christmas party of the season was at our house Saturday. Several weeks ago this day was chosen as the only day that everyone from my wife’s side of the family could get together. When people make these calendar and scheduling decisions I am never consulted, mind you I would have nothing to contribute to the discussion anyway. I remain flexible and spontaneous, if not aloof and uncommitted.

The Christmas party was special; we had it in our garage. The vehicles were backed out to make room for the tables and chairs. The floor was swept and washed so clean that it could be eaten off of it. I saw my 23 month-old grandson test this theory at least once during the party.

The feeble faux Christmas tree, complete with ornaments and lights, was transplanted from the corner of the living room to just below the landing in the garage. Presents were placed under the tree on top of the skirting and the tables were adorned in holiday splendor and holly.

Jolly relatives came from miles around bearing gifts and goodies. There were pans and platters, crockpots and candy. We talked and ate, played games, exchanged gifts and pleasantries. Indeed, a good time was had by all.

I can’t help but wonder though how out far on the calendar one can push a holiday celebration. I have a friend who believes that any day outside the 24th and 25th does not qualify. He says, “You can call it Christmas if you want, but it’s not.” Two weeks seems reasonable to me, but what about two months? If life becomes so busy that you go past the end of July, are you late or early?

I have known people who will not tolerate a celebration of their birthday other than on THE day. Then there are those who don’t mind a birthday lunch or party before or after the fact by a week or so, but clearly we lose focus if we wait too long or go too early.

There is a benefit in stretching the Christmas season; I find that the festive atmosphere still lingers with the decorations, and Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas music playing in the background does not seem out of place. I will miss the plush “Merry Christmas” mat outside the shower that welcomes me. The various nativity scenes scattered throughout the house that subtly remind me of the reason for the season will be wrapped up and put away. The banner that hangs from a door with its alternating blinking and winking lights that my grandson, Micah, calls “the changing,” will come down until next year.

I will miss all those things, but most of all I will miss the merry, cheery attitude that seems absent during other times of the year. People do seem happier and more than willing to give than to receive. It is the best time of year.

Christmas is over, but I hope and pray that the spirit of the season will linger.

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