So This Is Christmas

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So this is Christmas, and what have you done

Another year over, a new one just begun…

— John Lennon


As it has since I sped well past the half-century mark and now avidly read AARP magazine, looking for senior citizen discounts, Christmas sneaked up on me. I have ignored the Christmas motif dominating most stores since before Halloween. The reality that the holiday was indeed upon us came as I made the annual trip in the old truck with its long bed to the storage unit. I filled the bed with bins and boxes of Christmas decorations, collected by my Beautiful Mystery Companion and bought on sale after Christmas.

My job is three-fold: Get the decorations and stack them at the front door. Stay out of my BMC’s way. Hang the outside lights along the peak of the roof and wrap the scraggly tree with lights as well. Hang the large plastic Christmas ornaments — the size of cantaloupes — from the same tree in the front and a similarly scraggly tree outside the formal living room picture windows. Take all the now-empty bins and boxes back to the storage unit. Congratulate my BMC on once again making the house beautifully festive.


Five years ago it snowed on Christmas Day in Longview. It was the first time in 93 years the city had a white Christmas. The day started with thunderstorms that sent the dogs scurrying about, barking like fools and trying to take shelter beneath my feet. This year I finally bought Rosie — the more nervous of the pair — a Thunder Shirt. It tightly wraps around her round body and calms her down. If Rosie stays calm, Sam does as well.

Since that white Christmas, we have acquired two now-grown cats — brothers Tater and Tot. Their favorite outdoor hobby now is to bat acorns across the pool cover — kitty hockey. They do not weigh enough to send the cover into the water, unlike the dogs. Sam, the dimmer of the dogs, learned quickly that walking on thecover was a poor idea when he sunk to his knees before scrambling out.

Thunder does not bother the cats a whit. They just yawn, stretch their paws and go back to sleep. I would love to see their reaction to snow. That appears doubtful. East Texas winters the past few years are more spring-like than wintry, though a cold front on the horizon will make it feel more Christmas-like.


My favorite Christmas decoration is a ceramic crèche that belonged to my parents. It is at least 60 years old, some of the figures chipped in places. There is a hole in the roof in which a Christmas bulb can be inserted, which my mother always did. I prefer to leave it unlighted, reasoning the actual manger didn’t have electricity. The entire crèche is only 10 inches wide. Baby Jesus is about the size of a pecan. It sits in my study where I can admire it and remember the many Christmases spent with family and children.


It has become a tradition of mine to tell this story each Christmas, so bear with me if you have heard it before. My earliest memory of Christmas is from 1959 or 1960. I can’t be sure if I was four or five years old. We always spent Christmas Eve at my maternal grandparents’ house outside of Concord, N.H. a tiny house crowded with cousins on that night. I was lying in my grandparents’ bed, looking out the windows, which were narrow and near the ceiling, so you could see the stars.

I saw Santa Claus streaking across the sky and realized I had better get to sleep, or the old man might skip this house. My cousins would really be upset with me.

Sure enough, in front of the fireplace the next morning were gifts from St. Nicklaus. The plate of cookies held only crumbs, and the carrots for the reindeer were gone.

I know. I didn’t really see Santa Claus. Probably it was an airplane headed to Boston, or perhaps a meteor shower. But I prefer to believe the former, and certainly that’s what I thought back then.

I hope your Christmas is filled with family and friends, that you will take time to reflect on the true meaning of this season, perhaps do an act of kindness for a stranger, or possibly accept a kindness from one.

Merry Christmas and God Bless.

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