While my intellect tells me that time is finite, with a definite beginning and ending to each calendar year, it surely seems that the older I get, the more quickly the year goes, and so it was with 2018 and especially the culminating joyous last portion of it from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Now, as it must for everyone, my Christmas over time has changed due to life’s changing circumstances. The inevitabilities of our lives take parents and other family members away. Then, as it should be, children move out of our houses to seek their own fortunes.
This year, my family’s Christmas was the Saturday before the actual celebration of Christ’s birth. We’ve had to do this for the past several years now, actually ever since my kids and my brother-in-law and sister’s kids committed that near-unforgivable offense of growing up and creating their own families and, in my daughters’ cases, setting up their shops in Columbus.
Once the birdies flew the nest, there are other commitments they have when it comes to Christmas, so it just makes it a whole lot easier to slide our family day to the Saturday before whenever Christmas falls.
As it always is, our day was so very enjoyable, although a bit different than it has been for the past several years. We began with a small Christmas reception so that my niece Jessie could show off her new house and then proceeded right to my sister and brother-in-law’s house that borders one of Shawnee Country Club’s fairways.
But, let me give you a little information about our previous half dozen Christmases when my daughter Katie’s little ones and my nephew Joey and Quinn’s kiddos were smaller. For those half dozen years, the adults decided that maybe there should be two parts to our celebration, an adult portion when everyone didn’t have to be on constant guard that one of the little ones would pull the Christmas tree down and, of course, the all-together portion.
A favorite babysitter would be secured for the first half of the day for the kiddos, and the adults would enjoy some time together at a local establishment for two or three hours. Over the years, we’ve used places such as Beer Barrel, the Knights of Columbus and Fat Jack’s.
My family and some special guests, not the least of whom is Lady Jane, would hoist some Christmas cheer and enjoy some food and even some games of chance with Keno and, especially, a wonderful game introduced to my sister and me when we were children by our father, one called Liars’ Dice.
We’d talk a lot about our new times, of course, trying to understand what’s going on with the lives we have chosen or, sometimes it seems, the lives that have chosen us, but we also chase our own Ghosts of Christmas Past, apparitions not all bad, mind you, but ones that have receded into the shadows of expired time. As a younger person, little could I have imagined that Christmas would bring on a sense of wistfulness.
But, overall, regardless of how the way we’ve approached the day has changed, our gatherings have been pretty much devoid of drama and harsh words, really a true peace-on-earth affair. As I have each year, I brought the New England clam chowder made the night before, using a recipe that’s an homage to my father, who loved to make clam chowder on Christmas. He brought the tradition with him from his Bostonian stomping grounds of Lynn.
While Dad, as most men of his generation, didn’t spend much time in the kitchen except to use it as a conduit to get to his car in the carport, he always took great pride in his Christmas chowder.
I do realize, with some families throw together on holidays for extended periods of time on Thanksgiving and Christmas, there may have been some dysfunctional moments, hopefully nothing that rose to the level of a parodic song I discovered from my artificially intelligent roomie Alexa. It’s from the Irish punk band Dropkick Murphys, who hail from Quincy, less than a fifteen-minute drive from my father’s Lynn. The song is called ”The Season’s Upon Us,” and if you hop on YouTube, you can find a music video and see a family in total disarray.
Hopefully, like mine, your stockings were stuffed this Christmas with a whole lot more function than dysfunction. And, if you thought reflecting back there may have been a few dysfunctional moments, just find that Dropkick Murphys’ video.
Trust me. It could have been a whole lot worse!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.