Christmas 2015

On this eve of Christmas Eve, time is running short to do the last of your calculations.  Did you get something for everyone, do each of your children—at least the ones who can count—have the same number of presents under the tree and are they equivalent in terms of value and enjoyment? 

If you are kitchen-oriented, you are conducting different calculations —figuring out when to put the turkey in the oven on Christmas morning, or the standing rib roast.  You are reckoning the arrival time of the little ones who will help you decorate cookies and at the same time turn your christmas cookieskitchen into a winter wonderland of flour and powdered sugar.

Perhaps you have family on the road, heading home for the holidays.  Perhaps you have family heading away from your house, heading to another home, the new in-laws, say, or to the distant cities where your middle-aged children will join their own children, now grown and on their own.

It doesn’t matter.  You will juggle all the time tables in your head, keeping an eye on the weather channel and your flight board apps.  You will do the math backward on their ETA’s, keeping them safe with your worry and care. 

Or maybe you’ve already had your Christmas.  Your family gathered last weekend, or the weekend before.  Then your calculations might be different.  Today you are estimating all the hours of the next few days in your head, thinking about how you will fill them, how to enjoy the quiet and solitude without feeling sad or tree and ornament

You may enlist the help of books, or TV schedules and movie showings, or you may just decide to sleep through it, arriving on the other side refreshed and well-rested. 

Perhaps the next few days will be a continuation of the past few weeks—parties, gatherings, family and friend reunions, a weekend so full you will need the precision of a Swiss railroad table to make it all work.

And if any of this describes your Christmas, even a little bit, then you are lucky and rich beyond measure.  You have people to love and do for.  People who love and do for you.

If you are worried about your turkey, you have no worries, for you have food.

If you are worried about the quality of your gifts, you have no worries.  There are gifts.Christmas family gathering

If you have love in your life, you have everything.  Just simply everything.

This year, more than others, is seems important to remember this.  As the light leaves us in the last days of December, it is also good to spend some time calculating the state of the world, our community, our neighborhoods, where there are those without enough to eat, without warmth, either in the form of a good coat or love. 

We live in a community known for its generosity and it isn’t too late, even now, to do some charitable math, and find someone to help, or include, or pray for.  Or send good energy, if that suits you better, for never is need more acutely felt than at the holidays.  Never is sorrow more difficult than at Christmas.

This is math I can do.  There is power in it, being grateful and helping others.  It reassures us, after all the hoopla, all the excess, that we can do this, this little thing in our small corner of the world, to help bring about the return of light.

It is the Christmas promise, the gift, given and received, and passed along to others.

snowy christmas trees for end

Run, Run, Rudolph…I Think Not

The holiday season is now in full swing, with Thanksgiving and Black Friday behind us.  Some of you, and I don’t know why, have had your Christmas trees up since before Thanksgiving, and I applaud your organization but I don’t understand it. 

What must it be like to live such a well-ordered life?  I have no idea.  As late as Wednesday afternoon of last week I was still clearing off the dining room table, and it took a couple of hours.

But, we each have our holiday traditions and I am all about diversity, so I celebrate our differences.  And I might as well, because when one celebrates there is food and drink involved.

My friend, Margaret, always so engaged, always so active, spent October and  November sending out e-mails to our group, touting the Run, Runoverdecorated house Rudolph 5K, in Santa Clause, IN.  It is this Saturday, and, oh boy, we get to run around Christmas Lake Village or some such thing, looking at all the pretty lights.

My friends have been in training for weeks for the event.  Some are coming from out of town.  I can’t believe it.

When Margaret brought this up in October, my email response  went something like this:

“Honestly, what is wrong with you, Margaret?  Can’t we just sit in the car with cookies and hot chocolate while driving six miles an hour through lit-up neighborhoods?

Why must every pure pleasure be bought at such a price?

I can think of nothing worse than running through the park, tripping over electrical cords as I speed past Christmas lights.  Christmas lights are made to be looked at long and lovingly, as we, full of wonder, gaze upon them, all the while imbibing delightful beverages—egg nog, hot mulled wine, a plantation punch.

The idea of bundling up to sweat is anathema to me.  It reminds me of the  disco era.  All gussied up in slick and unbreathable polyester, while gyrating like one demented, in a frenzy on the dance floor, sweating like a pig.


Pig is a festive meat, holiday ham, ham and angel biscuits, bacon and sausage heaving on platters at a Christmas breakfast.  There would be Christmas hamwonderful cakes and a small piece of divinity to cleanse one’s palate, and maybe some potato dish, like hash brown casserole with cheese and sautéd onion. 

And coffee, rich special Christmas coffee served with cream and holiday flavors of cinnamon and peppermint. 

And that Couch to 5K business you suggested in your email.


Let me start now, this minute, TRAINING to see the Christmas lights.  I will make a wall chart, with big squares to to X out as I move closer and closer to my goal of running through the park, at night, in a blur. 

You all go right ahead, and I will join you.  I will be the one in the bed of a pickup truck; you can’t miss me.  I will have a little hibachi fire going, and rosy cheeks from my Christmas punch.  I will drape myself in blinkinghot mulled wine lights and I’ll be singing along to the Christmas carols blasting from my boom box.

I could share my Christmas cookies but I won’t tempt ya.  I know how you athletes take your performance seriously.”


Okay, I admit my reaction might have been  a bit extreme, but it is how it hit me at the time, plus it was just so much fun to write.

As it happens, my friends are more serious athletes than I would have given them credit for, and they have been training and are making plans for Saturday, even as I write this.

Out of graciousness or spite, I can’t tell, they still include me in the e-mails about the run.  I notice they plan to go out to eat right after.  I think I could just about muster enough energy to get off the couch and join them for dinner, maybe cheer them on from the comfort of my car.

I am a loyal that way.   

It is the holiday season after all.  And I bet there will be pie.