What do you get for someone who has everything? And I do have everything I can think that I need. Don’t try to think of anything. I have left many a person in despair. But this is about my recent Xmas excursion. The past few years I have been an Amazon shopper. Delivery and done. No lines, no stores, no pondering, no waiting for a great gift idea to fall upon you as you wearily trudge into another store for inspiration.
This year, along the way, I managed to Christmas shop in an actual store. I modeled. It’s not for me. The coat went to my brother Eric. The hat was for Dave. Where I am, the last thing I need is warm clothes. But the boys work and live in cold weather. So the warm gear will be welcome. What you don’t see and will not get to see, is the long underwear. Everyone got a pair. When Jules marries in March, it will be an outdoor wedding. No coat, suit and tie, in cool California weather, psst, a hint to the wise, dress warm. The party’s outdoors too. So long underwear will be our little secret. No one should be cold if forewarned.
How appropriate! Right after Christmas I am able to sneak in a dive shot that works for the holiday season.
These tiny creatures are about ½ inch in size. I do not see them too often. Now I have found a group of them and will take the opportunity to get better shots. The colors vary. There are blue, brown, yellow, and orange so far that I have seen. There are usually two trees that stick up and then there is a smaller side projection. The worms will disappear folding themselves into nothing as soon as danger is perceived. If you swim upon them and slowly move closer you might get a shot. But the tiny subjects are really at the limit of my camera’s ability.
Yes. Camera envy. I could get a much more expensive set up. Then it would be really like work. And there is the heartbreak if the camera gets wet and dies. And remember I am doing this for fun. Yes. Yes. It is for fun. There is a fine line between madness and fun.
I have tried to stage this shot all different ways. It is not easy to get a group shot. Someone blinks. Someone frowns. And those in front are larger than the group in the second row. The ladies hide their weight. Lighting is tricky. When it all comes together it is the annual family photo. And someone is always unhappy with how they look. This shot was about ten years ago. A lot has happened since then. Let it be at that.
It is another holiday I will miss at home this year. We had a lot of nice ones when the kids grew up. The annual tradition was to decorate the tree. We collected ornaments as we traveled so there were very few ornaments the same. And there were a lot of them at one point. The other tradition was who got to put Santa on the top of the tree. Somehow the kids kept track year after year. For a long time I had to lift them up without letting them fall into the tree. I was never forgiven the one time I slipped.
And there was a year when we were traveling on Christmas eve. In order to have time to make Christmas, Lisa decided not to tell the kids and we planned to have the day on the 26th. Shhhh just don’t tell. The airline pilot almost spoiled it when he spied reindeer off the plane’s wingtip. Lisa recovered quickly to Jules’ question by saying that Santa had to start early in order to arrive on time.
The next day the 26th was just like it was December 25th. The family arrived, I taped Xmas music from the radio complete with commercials, and we recreated the day without the kids noticing. I did not confess for about ten years.
Meanwhile we continued the tradition of Santa leaving a stocking full of small gifts. Santa doesn’t wrap so the kids could distinguish presents. The stockings continued well into the kids’ early twenties at which time I inquired as to when they knew there was no Santa. I guess we all kept the charade for a lot of years. Funny, though, the next year we stopped doing stockings. Bittersweet.
The tale of Xmas stockings goes this way. We had no chimney. But Santa arrived and brought the kids something for their stocking. He didn’t wrap them. And we left cookies – another story – on a plate for Santa. On Xmas morning, the kids would rush upstairs and examine their stockings first. I’d get photos and video. It was a close quarters narrow space because we hung the stockings on the stairway bannister. We never spoke of when the kids stopped believing in Santa. Really! They were in their twenties. Finally I asked when the moment came to them that there was no Santa… probably around the age of six? Well, they laughed sheepishly and told us they didn’t want to disappoint us. Too bad the spell was broken because that was the last year we did stockings. Oh the cookies… every year I had to eat the cookies and leave some crumbs so the kids would think Santa ate them. By the time Xmas eve comes you are pretty stuffed and even eating one more cookie is a chore.
I’ll mention one more anecdote. One year we were on Captiva Island on Christmas eve. Our flight was due to return that night. Rather than put together Christmas on December 25 we decided to tell the kids that Christmas was the next day 12/26. So on Christmas day we didn’t turn on a radio or the television and we actually pulled it off. The family came on 12/26; we all celebrated. I had taped Christmas music from the radio (the station played carols for 24 hours on 12/25). No one was the wiser. There was only a bad moment when the pilot on Christmas eve called out on the PA that he saw a man, a sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer outside the jet window. In reply to Julia’s question Lisa responded, “Santa has so many places to go, he’s getting a head start. I didn’t spill until the kids were past twenty.
This tradition ended pretty fast. For a while, every year Lisa would assemble a gingerbread house. It took her a few tries to work out construction issues. She wanted it all natural without any non-edible support. Believe me when I say that there were issues. When the kids were old enough they were the decorators. We’d have all manner of candy to apply. Though some people preserve the house and display it year after year, we ate ours in gleeful destruction. Then Lisa decided it was too much to do every year and we stopped.
There was a tendency to overdo the Christmas gifts in our house. It must have been a childhood compensatory thing. It means that there is ‘cleanup.’ Jane and David took it in another direction. It looked like they were having more fun with the wrapping than the gifts. As the commercial states, “It’s priceless.”
We always had a live cut tree since Lisa and I have been together. She told me her dad made a tree from cardboard once when she was little. Money being what it is, he said it just didn’t seem right to spend money on a dead tree. It’s another thing you do to correct things in your childhood. The kids always put the ornaments onto the tree. Initially it was just the ones you couldn’t break. Later on we still had to put the delicate ones above the height that the young nephews could reach. And finally with grown children we didn’t put up a tree at all last year. We went to my sister in law. …all grown up.