Christmas Diary: 2012

It helps when the weather tells you it’s Christmas. This year we had temperatures into the 30s at night and a week of rain, on and off. In Southern California, wet and chilly conditions give a sufficient feeling that the weather had become bracing, and it’s driving you inside a comfortable home that’s colored by a Christmas tree.

X-mas treeIn my family, the holiday comes with a blizzard of gifts, thanks to some compulsive shopping and numerous grandparents buying for not many grandkids. The streets of my neighborhood had a generous offering of Christmas lights. There are displays of elves, reindeer and Santa wearing shades as he rides in a hot-air balloon. These blowup figures sound like vacuum cleaners as you walked by them.

A few blocks away, one house has a statue of the Virgin Mary with a halo that lights up at night. It’s not bad, but you can’t see the figure too well when it’s dark so it looks mostly like a stray circle floating in front of the house.

We decided this year to buy a Christmas tree from a tree farm in the country… something we’d never done, and it turned out to be a mistake. It started with long arguments about what kind of tree to get, and ended with us buying the worst Christmas tree I’d ever owned. It had many gaps in the foliage and fungus growths on the branches, and it was so lopsided it broke my tree stand.

The next day I bought one of the trees in the parking lot at the mall.

This Christmas I received a historic gift: A bike. OK, to say historic is laying it on a little bit thick. But seven years ago I also got a bike as a Christmas present, which, a year-and-a-half later, got flattened by a car as I was hit on the way to work. I wasn’t flattened but ended up in the hospital with TBI and had to go through three months of rehabilitation.

I had barely ridden a bike since then, the one exception being a cheap folding bike I briefly had. It was falling apart and got stolen from the front of Von’s at my urging. See this blog post from a year ago for more on that story.

My son has an active fantasy life about living in a place that has cold and snow. So for Christmas he asked for (and got) a sled, snow pants and winter gloves. Strangely, his dream came true on New Year’s Eve when we drove 50 minutes to mile-high Laguna Mountain. We found several inches of snow had fallen and there were plenty of hillsides to sled on.

I worked during Christmas week, though like Bob Cratchit I had Christmas Day off. The holidays were otherwise similar to ones past, with visits from in-laws and nagging children to write thank-you notes.

Finally my wife and I are mailing Christmas cards, covered with photos of the family. This is when we try to recall whom we’ve known over the years and to also remember the last time we’ve gotten in touch.

It’s a sad exercise that reminds me that friendships are not forever and they fade with time spent never seeing one another. Do we send a card to Jeff, whom we haven’t spoken to in God knows how long, or would that be ridiculous? Maybe one of these days I’ll look for him on Facebook.

Christmas is great and it’s a hassle, and now it’s done. On Saturday I’ll leave my two trees on the curb to be picked up as green waste. I’ll pull the Christmas lights off the roof gutters and put them back in a box. The days are short, spring is a long way away and it’s time to get back to ordinary life.


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