It’s just as well that we no longer celebrate all Twelve Days of Christmas. We pile so much into the one day that we do celebrate, that I couldn’t survive eleven more just like it. This thought occurred to me today as I was reading Washington Irving’s “Old Christmas” sketchbook on my brand new Kindle. Reading those stories of old English Country Christmas traditions, minced pies, and Wassailing, I began to realize that over consumption has been around for much longer than we give it credit. Even in the 1800’s people were already lamenting the passing of “old Christmas” and the replacement of family with gifts bought at a store. The more things change…
It was a quiet Christmas at 20 Prospect. The Mrs. was scheduled to work night shift on Christmas Eve, so we stayed in town and just spent Christmas at home this year. In the end the hospital called her off, so we went to midnight mass instead. One of the peculiar things about midnight mass in Minnesota is that it is seldom at midnight. Ours was at 10:30 pm, but I guess it was already Midnight in Newfoundland, so we called it good. I love our parish, but the big brick gymnasium that we have for a church just doesn’t feel sacred enough for Christmas. I want statues, and candles, and soaring vaults echoing with the sound of organ music. Shadows, incense and a priest mumbling mysterious incantations in Latin. In short, I want magic!
We were up by 6 am, and opening presents with the kids. Santa was as generous as he always is, and despite our best intentions, we continue to spoil the kids rotten. There won’t be many more years of Lego’s left before they transition into surly teens just counting the minutes until they can go out with their friends. Why didn’t anyone warn us how quick they would grow? It seems like just last year that I spent Christmas day assembling large blow molded plastic pieces into kitchens, scooters, and basketball hoops. Now I spent 4 hours configuring iPods, and setting up a wireless router. I have gone from being one of Santa’s elves, to being Santa’s IT support.
It was made all the more complicated when our 8 year old LCD monitor chose Christmas morning to go to the great micro-electronic junkyard in the sky. So before I could do any of this, I had to bring the 42” TV over to the desk and hook it up to the computer. Folks, I have seen the future and it is BRIGHT, and LARGE. I had to wear a baseball hat to keep the glow out of my eyes when I was typing.
Which meant that today I had to stop at Best Buy on the day after Christmas to get a new monitor. Shopping at Best Buy on the day after Christmas is not anything I would ever expected I would do in this lifetime. Insane. I am here to report that the citizens of the Twin Cities have single handedly pulled the combined economies of China, South Korea, and Taiwan out of their recession in one afternoon. Such orgies of commerce are frightening to behold.
But the weekend wasn’t entirely spent wired to the internet. We also found time for fresh air. Thursday evening 20 Prospect Jr. and his hockey teammates met at one of the outdoor rinks for a couple of hours of pick up hockey. This is our favorite way to play the sport. No pads, no referees, no stressed out parents, just a mob of kids and outdoor ice, the way the game was meant to be played, before youth sports became “SERIOUS” business.
On Thursday night we picked up another 4 inches of snow, so on Christmas Eve we went to Elm Creek Park, and took the kids Cross Country Skiing. Mrs. 20 Prospect and I used to do a lot of cross country skiing before the kids were born, and we’ve waited quite awhile before getting them into it, for fear they’d hate it and all would be lost. In the 10 years since we skied regularly, the Three Rivers Park District has poured millions into the ski facilities. They also built a snowboard, and tubing hill, and are doing a booming business on winter sports. It’s not the sleepy little trail system for bearded guys in wool knickers that it used to be.
Not that I have anything against bearded guys in wool knickers. In fact, I’m sorta partial to them.
Then there were walks in the woods with the puppies, to get them their exercise, and work off a few cookies before returning to the trough. I have to say, the past three days have been the most laid back, and relaxed Christmas I can remember. Next weekend we will head to Eau Claire for the Full Gospel Sound of the Family Christmas, with kids, and Potica, and Ham, and cards, and a little too much red wine. (God willing)
Until then it’s back to the grindstone, where I hope to pass the week as quietly, and unobtrusively as the shareholders will allow.
Welcome back folks.