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Happy Holidays!

Image courtesy American Greetings, Cleveland, Ohio
"Christmas Time is Here" © Gary Clark, Jr.

Dear Readers,


Holiday season brings a little escape and cheer from all the bad news festering on television, that is why I am opening the boxes in the garage full of red Christmas decorations earlier this year.

My Christmas neurosis starts when I to pull out the Christmas tree and start trimming it the day after Thanksgiving because it takes me three days to painstakingly decorate it. Every year I choose a different color scheme. The first Christmas without my mother it was decorated with Scottish tartan ribbons in her honor since she was born in Scotland. Her picture encircled in a silver ribbon was in the middle of the tree for all to see, as I wanted her to be with us, if “only in a dream,” as the song goes.
It seems such a shame to cut a little evergreen tree and use it for only a few days then toss it to its premature death when such a living plant should be permitted to grow to maturity giving us more pleasure, and rejecting deforestation. The ecologists who also celebrate Christmas encourage us to cultivate more trees. My plastic tree looks quite real especially after I spray it with pine scent, and with all the colorful balls, knick-knacks, toys, and photos of our dogs long gone to doggie heaven, and golden swirls of ribbons on it, you can hardly see the green leaves anyway.

I also start to wrap gifts and leave them under the tree weeks in advance thus avoiding the parking problems in the shopping malls and Post Office. I mail my Christmas cards to my family in Europe on December 1, as I want them to enjoy the cheerful words and photos I enclose for a few extra days, as it seems so laborious to do all this extra work for the holidays for just a week.

Christmas time is a merry time of the year with all the decorations, colorful lights, presents, and people wishing each other the best of health. Some of my favorite melodies are Elvis Presley singing: Blue Christmas and Bing Crosby singing Silent Night. But I will sorely miss my mother playing the piano while I sang Christmas carols. She would have been 97 on December 29th. One good thing about family traditions is that they release our memories of happy times and give us comfort. These feel-good traditions remain with us as we add yet another Christmas to our lives.

I always mail Hanukkah cards to my Jewish friends to arrive before December 12th. When I am with my Polish family we open our presents on Christmas Eve after we return from mass, but when I am with my Scottish family, we have the custom of opening our gifts on a chilly Christmas morning. When we lived in Buenos Aires, we ate pan dulce and drank cidra on Christmas Eve, and while living in the States sometimes my husband and I will go skiing to Utah and make angels in the snow. But wherever I happen to be and whoever I may be with, one thing is certain, I celebrate Christmas with the glee of a child, and think of the Child in the manger because we need a little Christmas and Jesus in our hearts to last us all year long.