Thursday, December 22, 2011


Well, we had a great Christmas, and it helps to pass the winter.
Ina Dobson, January 1, 1933

One year when I was in high school (nineteen-sixty-something), Mother stayed up all night as December 23 became Christmas Eve so that she could meet her preparedness goals.  I had no idea we were so far behind when she told me she would not be going to bed that night, so I volunteered to stay up and help her. While she worked in the kitchen, I wrapped packages. It was probably about 4:00 a.m. when we crept up to bed. After that Christmas, I vowed I had pulled my last Christmas “all-nighter.” In retrospect, I don’t know what she was doing, and that’s the point. Whatever it was we could have done without it. (And I will add here that my extended family is comprised of helpful people, none of whom wanted Mother to be stressed. The demand to meet a certain standard was totally within her own thinking.)
But you know, I mentioned to my octogenarian friends that my mother would occasionally work into the wee hours in order to finish something that was important to her, and these two ladies, a generation ahead of me, both said that they had done that and they agreed that what they accomplished by so doing had been meaningful and fulfilling.
As rewarding as it may be to some, I cope differently. I remember that both Mother and I were often sick after Christmas, symptomatic of too much stress, too much work.  And I also remember that after Christmas Mother struggled with post-holiday blues and disappointment. Nothing is more important to me than coming through the holidays without depression. I tell myself that no one wants me to have a meltdown.

Here’s my plan for a successful holiday season:

1.  Start early and be realistic about what can be accomplished. And of course, I fail to start early enough or be realistic. So that’s when I must . . .
2. Be willing to cross off the list some of what I had hoped to accomplish. If we don’t have six types of traditional goodies on hand – oh well. I’m the only one who’s disappointed – because no one else even knows what I was planning.

3. Take time to enjoy the season, whether it’s a party or a holiday movie, or just a quiet evening as usual with Mike. The time spent in enjoyment of the season is important.

4. And most important of all is determining a post-holiday plan of action that focuses on what I will do when Christmas is over. I believe Ina is right when she says that Christmas should help us pass the winter. My philosophy is: “It’s not over when it’s over.” It’s not too late to bake holiday cookies, finish up that holiday display, learn to make new ornaments, quilt my holiday quilt or finish up that crocheted lap throw. Most of all, it’s not too late for good deeds. Christmas is a beginning, not an end.

And I will say with Ina, “I stood all the Christmas doings just fine.” KW

[The photos are of the interesting winter effects as the sun sets yesterday and today. The first is a view to the north with the grove reflected on June's field. In the second, the barn seems so clearly defined by light as the sun sets.  The fields seem to glow in the third. And the fourth shows Mike hurrying to get into position as Nellie makes a serious point. The postcard is from my dad's collection.]


Leah said...

Many parents have stayed up until the wee hours on Christmas Eve putting presents from Santa under the tree. We did that a lot when my son was a little sprout.

One year, my husband and a man who was a neighbor worked nearly all night assembling a complete cardboard kitchen for the other man's 2 little girls. It was done at our house and the guys spent most of the night trying to assemble the little girl's big surprise. It was basically assembling cut out cardboard pieces and matching slots & tabs to make the square shapes of a stove, refrigerator, etc. We laughed about that herculean effort for years after.

Kathy said...

We didn't do the late-night assembly stuff. Don't know how we escaped.

As a matter of fact, I am a graduate of the cardboard kitchen assembly process. I know exactly what you're talking about. My niece Mary received the whole kitchen and I volunteered to put it together. Every time her mother (Joni) came, they brought another appliance for Aunt Kathy to assemble. I loved it! But it was time consuming. (I'd say that was 1964 or '65.)

Chris said...

No midnight assemblies here, either. I do remember one Christmas when I finished a shirt for my Dad around midnight, but that's it. However, I have been up later than I might have wished getting food ready for Christmas breakfast...

Kathy said...

Ooooo -- Christmas breakfast at your house must be special. We'll have eggs, bacon, and biscuits as a rule, and Hallie and Nick do the cooking. We've also had waffles. But we don't have traditional sweet rolls.

Chris said...

Our breakfast can vary, but we often have a breakfast casserole, fruit, sweet breads, etc., but sometimes it's sweet rolls, scrambled eggs, and link sausage.