It was a good thing my sister-in-law Patti invited us for dinner the day after Christmas.
That meant I didn’t have a bunch of dirty dishes to rinse and put in the dishwasher. I got to check out the evening news on PBS. Once again, life is good.
I do remember those post-Christmas days of my childhood. This year in the Midwest, temperatures hit the 60s, even the 70s in some locales. But in the late 1940s in Defiance, Ohio, I could depend on snow, even enough on the ground for sledding. Forget that this year.
But back in the 1940s, the topic of conversation among my pals in the neighborhood wasn’t homework or mean ole’ Mrs. So-and-So. It was “What did you get for Christmas?”
This year, nobody at our Unitarian church brought up the subject. People greeted me. After the service, during coffee hour, I visited quite a while with a middle-age woman who told me she celebrated the holiday alone, with only a cat to keep her company.
I mentioned this to my wife Toni and she said we’d have to invite this person to our Christmas celebration next year. I knew that would be her reaction when I shared this news. For goodness’ sake, nobody should be alone on Christmas.
On the subject of gifts, I came out pretty well. New DVDs, a red cotton sweater – I had given away my old one – and a calendar that features a New Yorker cartoon for each day of 2016. At the family gift exchange, I received a pair of socks that contain an electric heater. Word got to my sister-in-law Lori that I complain about cold feet.
The truth is that through the years, I’ve amassed such a collection of things, including clothes and books, that I must be among the biggest challenges for any family member to figure out what to give me for Christmas.
As always, the gifts are the sideshow. Yes, the meals are special, too. Especially the desserts. I suppose most people would say that the truly great thing about a Christmas gathering is spending this precious time with family and good friends.
The conversation can be about new jobs or old ones. It can turn to news and national politics. Or how much this or that child has grown and the new skills or words the child can now show off. Our five-year-old great niece now feels comfortable entering into the conversation at the table just like an adult.
Two days later finds me still thinking about each one of the family. That includes the granddaughter we picked up at the Indianapolis airport just in time to share this holiday. She returns to her job in LA New Years Day. I wonder what new adventures she’s headed for.
For my part, I headed this morning for my four-mile hike through nearby Foster Park, attended the Unitarian church service after that. Soon I’ll plunge into my Sunday reading of my home delivered New York Times.
Yet it’s even a more special Sunday today. I’ve got a head full of Christmas memories. and a few new possessions I’ll make good use of. At 77, I couldn’t ask for more.