Christmas ruminations from a curmudgeon

The holiday is over but lingering good will is floating around. At least for a while. Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday. It was when I was a kid. Two weeks off from school and presents. Throw in a snowstorm and it’s all good. My Mom baked and cooked her heart out. People visiting. What’s not to love?

These days I don’t hope for snow because it makes travel harder (although maybe a few flakes would be OK).  I like the upbeat spirit that accompanies the holiday. You can find it even if it isn’t the same as when I was a kid. (That’s just my set of filters.)

Locally only one Starbucks is open and it’s not my home one. They canvass all the stores for volunteers to work Christmas Day. The pay is good so I don’t feel badly that they work. I tip well to enjoy my mocha latte. I bought two. The second one was an insurance policy in case I got that longing!

Several of my local baristas were working. It was like old home week. (There is something to be said about people knowing your name!) It wasn’t overly crowded and people were nice (remember these are pre-coffee people so nice is very good).

Then there is the gifting. We don’t do much. Most are checks. One of the adult offspring announced that he’s not doing gifts for anyone but kids. Works for us! There is no logic to giving a check and receiving something similar in return. All of the beloved husband’s family lives cross-country so it’s hard to know what people are into or what they have. Asking for ideas defeats the purpose of a gift. My family hasn’t exchanged adult gifts in decades. Many decades.

The last place I worked was a “gift giving” place. Most companies discourage “gifting up” but this one encouraged it. I remember chipping in $20 for an executive gift only to get a $5 bottle of wine in return. Hmmm….

The local department store closed in early spring. I was surprised by how much I miss it. A lot of the holiday mayhem is gone. The remaining stores in the mall didn’t bother opening early. Who thought I’d miss shopping crowds but they create a part of the holiday buzz.

We did our traditional ride on Christmas Eve to look at lights. Many homes in the local neighborhoods go all out. They could be on a TV show fighting for first place! At the end, the beloved husband thought generally that people were cutting back. I thought so too but it was still festive.

There is a certain kind of person who goes crazy for Christmas. Some celebrate it in July (yikes!). I didn’t get that gene. I follow some traditions and special foods but nothing crazy. I enjoy how cheery people are, greeting strangers with a smile but I would prefer if that same cheeriness was here year round.

69 thoughts on “Christmas ruminations from a curmudgeon

  1. This was the first year I didn’t buy a gift even for my mother! Yikes! She insisted that this was the year for us to stop the tradition, and I went along with it, although it felt strange. We do a lot together so that’s the exchange. I feel like I actually gave more in gratuities this year to service providers than I did for my family. The grandchildren make out like bandits, so we’re not ahead financially, LOL, but it was less frantic in the lead up to Christmas. I am still feeling the afterglow of a happy season, but it will soon be time to turn the page and we will need to move on. And I’m not at all looking forward to getting on the scale! 🙂

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  2. Christmas at our house has certainly been down-sized the last few of years. No tree and only a few Christmas things (cups, glasses, etc.) that are easy to pull out and put back. Husband has never been one to put lights up which is fine with me. We admire our neighbors’ efforts. There are more checks than gifts. Sounds as if you had a fine Christmas!

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    • I would love your Christmas! One of these years, the tree may not make it. I don’t mind decorating the mantel (we stapled everything on a board for easy peasy) but I don’t like hauling out tons of boxes.

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  3. I love Christmas but I have to admit the craziness of it gets to me sometimes. Once I get past that part I enjoy the rest of it, especially getting everyone together. I agree with the fact that people seem to be cutting back on decorations. There seem to be a little less each year.
    I loved going out to the stores today. It was so quiet and easy to navigate..:)

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    • I like to shop a little during the season because it’s so festive in the stores. Everything is decorated and people are upbeat. Mostly (after all they ARE people). I just don’t like having to buy stuff for other people. I know how that sounds but I’m so practical, I hate thinking I’m getting something they won’t like, use or wear. That comes from years of getting those gifts myself. I’m more about the get togethers.

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  4. I’m sort of yes and no when it comes to Christmas. I only give gifts to my sisters, and my daughter. No one else in family really cares for it. I do enjoy seeing the decorations, just not overdone. I like a lot of people dislike the commercialism of it all. I nice quiet yule fest, and that’s the way I prefer it. 🙂

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  5. No snow here. Not too much rain either. (Yeah!) My whole family is here with me for Christmas week–two daughters, one son-in-law, and two grandsons staying with me, another daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter staying nearby. It’s been fun, but I’m getting a little tired. I was too ambitious with my recipes–adobo, pancit, and rice one night, coq au vin, zucchini souffle, and salad the next. Luckily my daughters took over tonight.

    Christmas mass was beautiful with an expanded choir and accompanying instruments. When the trumpet and tympani joined in on “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,” it brought tears to my eyes.

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  6. We stop buying for the kids as soon as they have children of their own, then we buy for the grandchildren – Andrew’s still hanging in as the lone survivor. He may just get a check next year because I’m at a loss as to what to get a 26-year-old who has everything he needs! This morning we returned and exchanged because this afternoon he was back on the road. He was only here for two days but I’m ready for some quiet time.

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  7. Love the Maxine cartoons which work perfectly with what you are saying and Christmas does lose that magic and mystique as we get older. For me, it is different since it is just me, so it is always going to be low key, but it seemed like forever the stories on the news were associates with sales or parking lots or Amazon hot ideas – boom, it’s over, even the Christmas carols on the radio. It is kind of a letdown, like coming back after vacation and you are faced with the daily grind and reality. We did the holiday gift when I was still at the Firm and we did something strange. We brought our gifts in and then the office administrator passed out numbers. We each had a number. We could go pick a gift, and open it, ooh and aah over it, but if someone had a higher number than me, they could take it away from me, and so it went until we exhausted the numbers, except the person with number 1 could supercede and take anyone’s gift. I didn’t care for it and one of the secretaries had too much to drink and liked her gift, clutched it to her chest and said “no, mine – go away!” At first we thought she was being funny, as some of that would happen, you’d say, “no, I’m keeping my gift as there are no other ones I like” … but someone wanted it and she started calling them names, then starting to cry. The following year, there was no gift exchange. 🙂

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      • That’s for sure – at the ad agency, we had an office party where one girl had a few too many drinks and got up on the table and started to dance. They started limiting drinks after that. No words sometimes for what happens sometimes at office parties.

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          • I believe it – you lose respect for the Christmas bashes after awhile. The ad agency was terrible – dancing on the table – SMH. The Christmas present exchange was at the first law firm I worked and they were quite strict (dress code and all Firm functions were segreted in that the staff had their own party, the attorneys had their own and there was a Tiger baseball game get together in the Summer … staff sat on one side of the ballpark, the attorneys on the other side). The last law firm I worked, (where Robb/I left), they had the annual Christmas get together after work and not near our downtown office. They were lawyers – right, so you’d think they would be prudent about parties. But they had only munchies and hors d’oeuvres, not any food of substance, and an open bar the entire evening – I think it was four hours – free drinks/food … people were all over that. I only went to a few of them because it started at 6:00 and many went for a pre-party drink, then the same group (attorneys and secretaries) went somewhere else after they left the Firm get together. My former boss whom I really liked, came in the next day after the party and I was wearing a Christmas ornament with a bell and he turned to me and asked “can you lose the bell just for today please?” It was even considered acceptable to arrive at 10:00-11:00 a.m. the morning after the Christmas party – staff included.

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  8. Wonderful that you were able to get your Starbucks even on Christmas. Our daughter just quit working there as she has gotten a much better paying job as an assistant teacher. We will miss our free coffee though! We did a drive last night looking at some of the lights on the way home from dropping my mom off after the movies (we saw Welcome to Marwen). Not quite as many houses decorated as in the past but it was still pretty. We only gift to the five in our family so it is not too bad and most of the things we could find online so going to the mall wasn’t stressful. I do like the holiday spirit and wish we could experience it all year long. I try to give it as much as I can. Happiest of New Years to you and your hubby, Kate.

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  9. We live pretty close to a locally famous “Holiday Lights” neighborhood. It’s really beautiful, the way they string the lights from the trees, but I usually forget at least once that I should not try and go to the store after 7 PM. The traffic backs up from the light-peepers and I can’t get out of the shopping center.

    Profanity is not festive.

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    • No but sometimes necessary to retain sanity. There is a mega one not far from us. We are not affected but I wouldn’t want to live on that street. It’s a dead end street so cars have to turn around. The people can barely get out of the driveway at Christmas time and then they have to drive very slowly so the peepers can look. All the homes are multi-million $ homes too.

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  10. Ha! Hubby and I had a ‘Julymas’ celebration this year, sending out cards with a special poem to let the recipients know they’re thought about more than once a year.
    It’s been a good couple of days here. We’ve eaten well and only overindulged a little on the sweet stuff. I’ve still got lots in, but they have a good shelf life, and the extra veg we can prepare and freeze so nothing should be wasted. We’ve walked a fair bit too to show willing but know tomorrow will be back to normal with traffic as the shops re-open.

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  11. We seem to have had a fairly balanced holiday. I didn’t do much ahead, since we went all-out for Thanksgiving and went to NY mid-month. The stress level was low, allowing us to still function while fighting colds. Everyone was happy with silly Santa gifts and one present each. This could be a long-term solution.

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  12. We had a good time playing games with our adult kids. Cutting out the stressful personal gift-giving was a wonderful gift to myself. Ahhh, it was a good celebration. I hope yours was good too-it sounds like it.

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  13. I didn’t have much of holiday spirit this year until about 10:35 am December 23. By then it was a bit late to go ‘all out’ but hopefully managed to keep some of the goodwill in my heart for a long while, at least until I can cleanse my body of all the Christmas sweets. I expect daily headaches while the sugar is purged but hopefully the goodwill and loving thoughts will increase or at least remain during detox. Cheers!

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  14. I’m one of those people who breathes a sigh of relief when all the Christmas mayhem is over. I discovered some time ago that the vast majority of all the workload falls to the matriarch of the family and now I greet Boxing Day with gratitude that I survived another with my sanity still somewhat intact.

    Right now we are sitting in the middle of an area affected by a power outage. I’m enjoying this extra bit of enforced quiet in the house … at least until it starts to get cold in here 😏

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  15. We had a wonderful time this year ~ like you, not much in the way of shopping or exchanging gifts, but the gifts we gave were hits. And the gifts we got “enhanced our holiday cheer.” 😀

    And we had yummy appetizers, a delicious buffet dinner, mulled cider with applejack or maple liquor . . . followed up by homemade Christmas cookies! So good!

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  16. One of the free music stations that’s offered on our cable (“Choice Music”) had a Christmas in July going during that month last summer. I remember wondering at the time just how many people were listening to it. My hunch is a goodly number otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. Well, whatever keeps (some) people happy, right? It sounds like you had a nice holiday, Kate. Now, on to New Year’s Eve! – Marty

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