Christmas by Choice
It often seems as if Christmas time is all about making choices. See? I just made one right there – choosing to use the traditional name of the holiday instead of the secularly sanitized euphemism, “Holiday season.” But this column is not an update from that battlefront.
The Christmas choices I’m thinking about involve much less weighty decisions. Like whether or not I should put up every string of outdoor lights that we have accumulated in our warehouse of decorations. Do the lights have to follow every inch of roofline and wrap hundreds of times around each tree trunk and porch pillar? Does every exterior window really need to be framed with twinkling lights? Wouldn’t a simple line of lights along the eaves suffice this year?
While I’m making lighting choices, should this be the year I finally acquiesce to my wife’s annual “suggestion” that we try all-white lights instead of our customary, time-honored, it’s-how-our-kids-were-raised, passed-down-from-generation-to-generation, the-axis-of-the-earth-will-shift-if-we-break-with-tradition use of multi-colored bulbs? That’s easy. Not a chance.
We had to make another crucial choice last week; whether or not our annual Christmas card will include a photo of our youngest son who, technically at least, is still living here. I say technically because, while he does still have a bedroom here at home, for all intents and purposes he has lived on campus at his school in San Diego for probably 98% of the past year. Last summer he worked full time and lived on campus and only was home for a week or two at most.
Even so, we couldn’t help but wonder if he’d feel left out if we didn’t include him in this year’s card. Even worse – what if the photo of my wife and I did include our two new dogs – no kids (at least of the human kind), just dogs. Would our son’s feelings be hurt? Would he feel displaced by the new hounds in our home? We’ll soon find out, as the card we chose after much deliberation and handwringing does indeed show just my wife and I and both dogs. Gulp.
In our defense, however, our youngest son simply hasn’t been home enough this year even for me to get a photo of the three of us together. So there.
Debating over our Christmas cards brought up yet another choice that had to be made. Namely, should we include a dreaded “Christmas letter” with our cards this year, or do we give everyone on our list a break? The often-maligned practice of writing these things would make a good subject for an entire column, but again, not today.
Spoiler alert: If you’re on our Christmas card list this will ruin the surprise, but we did finally decide to send a letter along with our photo card this year – in part because so much has happened with our family since last Christmas and even more will be happening in the coming year.
We also chose to include a letter because it solves the problem of not including our kids in the photo on the card itself. The letter that will soon be mailed with our cards has interesting updates (hopefully) about each of four of our adult kids and their respective spouses, families and/or significant others – complete with photos of everyone involved, even the dogs. Problem solved.
Now that that choice has been made, our decision-making is by no means over. We still need to come to an agreement as to how many of our legendary Chase family Christmas cookies will be cut out, baked and overly-decorated this season. My wife would be happy with a single batch of approximately three-dozen cookies. I’m leaning more towards two or three times that amount. After all, our kids may not live under our roof any longer, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come back to eat everything in sight.
I’ll see you ’round town.