The church services and children’s pageants will be past, and the fat Christmas goose will be lunch meat.
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If you are blessed with friends and family, you’ll likely pile into one house or another for Christmas-time visiting. Where I grew up, we called it “treeing.” Usually there was lots of cookie eating, along with consumption of pepperoni, cheese and crackers.
My great-aunt Edith would call my four siblings and me to our tree and insist on seeing each and every gift we’d received. We’d hold up our toys and clothes one by one and answer her questions regarding function, fabric, size and price range. In return, she’d “ooh” and “ahh” at the material treasures of the industrialized world.
“Isn’t that clever? Who thought of that? I bet they are rolling in the dough. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” Aunt Edith would say.
I’ll never forget the confusion and amazement the Atari caused her.
When we went to my Grandpa Vic’s house, we’d spend hours playing hide and seek in the basement with my cousins who’d come to town. Their visits were characterized by “sleep”- overs where we’d stay up all night wearing headbands, dancing and singing “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John. When we tired of that, we’d pop a 33 on the record player and sing “Does your chewing gum lose it flavor on the bedpost over night?” I don’t know what that song was called or who sang it, but it provided my cousins and me with hours of entertainment.
Nowadays it seems after Christmas get-togethers have lost some of that connectedness. Maybe it is because now I live in a less rural area. Maybe it’s technology, and that societal expectations have changed. I think there is a sense that young people should be entertained and that gratification should be now. After Christmas activities I hear about these days are going to the mall, exchanging things and buying more things; going to movies theaters; and hitting the slopes.
A lot of times, families today seem to be missing out on the joy of just hanging out together. It happens in my own family, too. It’s fun to go snowtubing or to get out of the house and let the kids run around at Chuck E. Cheese for a while.
But this year over break, my sights are set on things that are easier on the wallet and will help us reconnect. Here are the kinds of things I aspire to do.
I have fond memories of playing card games with my extended family. Board games and game systems offer similar amusement. Two years ago, my sister and I discovered Wii hula-hooping. We finally went to bed around 3 a.m. when my daughter, who was three at the time, came downstairs and asked us to quiet down.
Watch Christmas movies
It’s fun to pile in front of the TV with pillows, blankets and a tray of hot chocolate. The days after Christmas are perfect for picking up seasonal DVDs like “White Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on clearance.
When snow comes, I resolve to set aside adult responsibilities and get out there to make snow angels and snowmen. If it doesn’t come, a brisk hike works out sugar cookie-highs and keeps everyone warm.
Do a fun project
My children’s requests to use bubble gum makers, rock tumblers and butterfly habitats typically are met with my harried, “Not right not, honey.” I hope to shock them this Christmas break with a, “Go get your sushi-making kit and let’s get cracking!”
Do something nice
Maybe we could go play an instrument or just talk to people at a nursing home; take some sandwiches to the soup kitchen; or take blankets and items from overstuffed closets to the cold weather shelter.
Reflect on faith
Books like Dan Schaeffer’s “In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas” are loaded with neat ideas for faithful reflection and celebration.