Thursday, December 19, 2019

Christmas Preparations, Now and Then

Well, I think I've got our admittedly minimalist Christmas squared away. I went online yesterday and ordered some new shirts for Dave, and I walked to a nearby kitchen supply store and bought him a gift card. I've found with kitchen stuff it's much better if Dave chooses his own -- he knows what he needs, and inevitably whatever I buy doesn't get used much. (Anyone want a ten-year-old crepe pan, still in the box, or a Le Creuset fondue set? Like new!)

I've also mailed a gift card to my nieces. And I bought bottles of wine for my library co-workers, which I didn't even have the chance to give them in person because everyone was locked up in training sessions Monday and Tuesday. I just left the bottles on their desks.

And that's pretty much it. There's no cooking, since Dave and I will be gone. There's no decorating to speak of. Christmas is much easier when kids aren't part of the picture! Adults -- especially adults who know me -- have low expectations.

I feel like I grew up with relatively simple Christmases, although that probably just betrays my ignorance of how much work my parents put into them. I'm three years old in this picture. My nursery school had a "kitchen corner" with toy appliances that I loved, so my parents bought me some. Don't you love my little flowered apron?

Anyway, even then, as you can see looking at that tree, there wasn't a great deal of decorating going

After my parents divorced, my mom, brother and I used to spend Christmas at my grandmother's house in Maryland. She was also into keeping Christmas simple. We'd put up a little artificial tree, a couple of feet high, in her living room, and we'd all buy each other one or two presents. We had Christmas dinner at my uncle's, where the holiday tended to be more of a production, and my dad and stepfamily always put up a big ol' tree at their house and had lots of presents. I liked our little Maryland tree and our quiet evenings just sitting around talking, but I confess that if I wanted something specific as a gift, I knew to ask my dad and stepmother -- they were much more likely to come through.

After my grandmother died in 1989, by which time I was living on my own, Christmases at my mom's in Florida were fairly simple too. Once or twice my brother went out just before the holiday and bought a half-price tree, but most years we didn't bother. We had a single strand of colored lights we used to put up along the roofline at the front of the house, and they were so old we joked they might burn the place down. We gave each other a couple of gifts, my mom made a special dinner, we did all the cleanup, and that was that.

I don't know how holidays in our culture turned into such a crazy production.

(Photo: A city view near the overground train station not far from our flat. The poster looks like a religious message, but it's actually an advertisement for a Kanye West album.)


  1. I wonder what an Egyptian Christmas is like. You are soon to find out. I guess they roast camels - whole ones wrapped in foil.

  2. I do very much love the little flowered apron! I love that you wanted your own kitchen!
    And I love that you had simple Christmases and that they were enough..
    I fear that Kanye thinks he is the second coming.
    Ooh boy.
    He's going to have to fight DT for that one.
    What is wrong with people?

  3. I was going to comment on that little apron. and to answer your question about how christmas got to be so extravagant in our culture...capitalism and greed, a country too rich with too much stuff.

  4. Simply Put, Happy Holidays

    P.S. Mr Dave Is Taken Care Of. Whats In It For Olga??

  5. Holiday celebrations go from nothing to nuts. Some people don't bother and others go right over the top. Some people today are not capable of organizing and carrying out any celebration at all.

  6. My husband LOVES Christmas and all its trappings. I would probably never put up a tree, even though I love them, but every year he just takes care of it himself. I do like to see outrageous outdoor displays - the cheesier the better. AND I love simple crèche displays too.

    You are adorable in your apron. Funny that Dave's more the apron guy in your family :)

  7. My Christmases get simpler and simpler every year. I stopped putting up a tree last year and all I do now is put a wreath on the door and a few small Christmas decorations around the house. Nothing big, just a few things I've collected on travels. When I was a kid, we always had Christmas Eve at my Grandparents house and then Christmas morning with mom and dad at home. I remember my Grandmother always had a small tree but, mom and dad always got a big one. We only got one or two gifts at home and just one from my Grandparents. When I moved to Arizona, I was shocked when I saw how big my new friends Christmases were. They had piles and piles of presents under their trees. It amazed me. What amazed me even more was how much of the stuff they got, they returned or exchanged. It made no sense to me.

  8. We never celebrated Christmas or Hanukkah at my house when I was growing up. Some neighbors had trees and lights; some neighbors had a menorah in the window. We didn't do any of it. It's an interesting time of the year that I feel absolutely no part of. It does surprise me how much of a huge thing it has become these days. Oy gevalt!

  9. What a dear picture of you as a little guy.

    Your Christmases - then and now - sound just right.

  10. I love that photo of you at Christmas. Two of my grandsons are chefs. They would have loved getting those kitchen things when they were little. I used to make a bit deal at Christmas for my kids while they were growing up. Every year, everyone came to my house for Christmas Eve because Santa came by for a visit. Christmas morning with my kids was heavenly. Lots of presents and lots of happiness. Now they all do this for their families. I prefer to stay home with Pogo. We have a little tree, with lots of presents beneath it to open on Christmas morning. I have a Portal so I get to be with all the kids with it. When do you leave for your trip? I do hope it is awesome and you get lots of photos. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  11. That is an adorable picture of you pretending to be Betty Crocker. Funny that Dave is more of the family chef now.
    I do think we are all paring down Christmas so we may enjoy it all the more. I felt like my Christmas wish was fulfilled when I heard the final gavel on trump's impeachment. One last gasp of democracy.