It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
It’s December 6; the tree is up, the lighted wreaths on door and window are installed and turn on and off as dictated by the automatic time control. The holly and Indian Hawthorne bushes have been festooned with garlands of lights and the stockings are hung, with care, of course.
As if that weren’t enough, about 4 inches of sleet, on top of a glaze of ice, add something of a Currier and Ives mood to the season. Temperatures will not rise above freezing today or tomorrow and maybe for only a few hours the day after that. My weather app indicates a low tonight of about 12.
A fire blazes in the fireplace. Okay, it’s a gas log but the fire is real enough and I don’t have to trudge out into the cold to grab an armload of wood every two hours to keep it burning. And I don’t have to empty ashes, risking carpet smudges in the process.
Most of the shopping has been accomplished, a great deal of it online. And about 95 percent of it has been accomplished without my assistance.
I probably should make some cursory complaint about missing the excitement of holiday shopping, the joy of greeting happy shoppers as they “rush home with their treasures.” But I don’t miss it all that much. Christmas shopping has become a mad rush to collect items on a list and empty the bank account in the process. And I typically run into folks who are stressed to near the breaking point, dragging along children who would rather be home playing video games. So, online works for me.
I used to plan a Christmas Eve adventure—rushing out to the nearest big box store to buy one last “Blue Light Special” and soaking up the festive atmosphere of last-minute mania. No more. It has become dangerous.
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I do remember less hectic Christmas seasons. I even have a faint recollection of enjoying the cold weather, and we always hoped for a white Christmas. I didn’t mind chopping fire wood, hauling it in and lighting the fire. A crackling fire, a cup of cocoa and a few of my mother’s oatmeal raisin cookies warmed body and soul.
I recall that shopping, even back then, could be a bit hectic, especially with my four siblings and I all going in different directions. I’m sure we tried our mother’s patience. But I can’t recall folks fighting over the last electric football game at the five and dime. And the rush didn’t start quite as soon as it does now. Folks kinda eased into Christmas.
I still have a few things to do. We’re visiting family next week, including the grandsons who will initiate more than a little Christmas excitement. That visit requires a twelve-hour drive—one-way. But Pat and I will swap driving duties every few hours and the trip will seem like a Sunday jaunt. (Or maybe I’ve already had too much eggnog.) Christmas travel used to be a 20-minute drive to one grandparent’s house and a walk across the road to the other one.
I have some cards to mail. I still have a few items to purchase and wrap—or stick in one of those handy gift bags. But I don’t anticipate a lot of last-minute craziness. Perhaps I’m naïve, perhaps a bit old-fashioned, maybe a bit off kilter in a thoroughly modern world, but it seems to me that Christmas should be the opposite of frantic. It should be a time of introspection, contemplation and peace.
And I can do without the white stuff.