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How was your Christmas

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
Every year most of us will answer that annual question of “How was your Christmas” with the same old refrain of…”Oh, it was the best ever….it was wonderful.”

Now, a lot of us are lying through our teeth since Christmas isn’t always wonderful and in a lot of cases it isn’t any fun. First off, you are challenged with the demanding task of going into crowded stores to buy things for your family and friends that they probably don’t want and will never use. Things like a book on the “Care and maintenance of your toaster crumb tray” or a DVD on the Elmer Prentiss surefire method of check balancing. At the same time you get more shaving lotion than you can ever use in several lifetimes along with a tie you will never wear and some socks. Who gives socks?

I don’t need any candy or pies, I’m wearing more of them than I’d like at this time. I don’t want any more slippers; I have enough as it is. Don’t buy me anything. I have enough stuff. I don’t want to move any more stuff. You probably have too much stuff as well.

The other reason this time of the year is so hard is the stress it places on families trying to be in multiple locations on the same day. “We went to your mothers’ house last year; we have to go to mine first this year.” So instead of it being a nice quiet holiday, millions of Americans put themselves in harms way by driving like mad men around the country trying to make their mothers and in laws happy on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Kids get confused since no one is really certain where and when Santa is going to land. Your mother’s house or mine? How can Santa keep up with all of us? This gets compounded when there is a divorce and everyone is trying to make it around to all the bases in order not to make anyone mad.

Well, if you were to ask me how was my Christmas, I can admit to you it was the best one I have had in many a year. First off, we didn’t decorate, no tree, no lights. My wife got sick the week before and didn’t really feel like putting up a tree a couple of days before Christmas. Then we told everyone not to give us any gifts….just toys for the grandkid…that worked out better than you can imagine. The kids were happy, we were happy.

We cooked all weekend long and had company for five days. Everyone got plenty to eat and came and went as they pleased. We played Monopoly, dominoes and cards….laughed a lot and watched enough football to last me for the rest of the year. The main thing was, we were all together and no one was stressed over credit card bills or trying to buy something that none of us needed. We had kids in the house on Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Everyone did what they wanted and if they had to go to some other house for an obligation, well, that was ok as well, food was going to be on the stove when they got back, no big deal.

I am looking at January without thinking about how much I spent and what I have to pay back. I don’t have to try and get the tree out to the curb before trash pickup. I didn’t have bags of wrapping paper and bows saved for boxes we’ll never use in the future.

I was able to sit by my fire, read a book, listen to my boys and their wives or girlfriends laugh and play games. I was able to hear my granddaughter as she opened her presents. I was able to see my wife sit and talk with our kids and catch up on their lives.

This time of the year has always produced so much stress for me; it takes away from the true meaning of the holiday. I think I have finally found the answer to keeping things under control and enjoying the time with my family. It’s about time.

Somehow, I think that’s what the season should be about in the first place.

Have a good New Year.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

December 27, 2007 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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