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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: December 16, 2021

Jane Thibodeau Martin

Ready for the Season

**********

For the majority of us, the holidays and especially Christmas are times of cherished traditions. Many celebrate in the same place, the same way with the same people every year; and this comfortable routine becomes central to their holiday.

All the same, we have to adjust from time to time. Cherished family members pass away; someone moves further away or has a job or obligation that prevents them from traveling or participating. Kids grow up; gain life partners who have their own family expectations and traditions, so some negotiation and flexibility becomes necessary as the new couple's separate families adjust.

I have wonderful memories of the "standard" Christmas in my childhood home, and another set of customs associated with the years we had children and traditions in our own home. Now we have moved on to what I think of as the third stage of holiday traditions; one that has to be fluid with nuclear family members in three states, thousands of miles apart, and involving multiple sets of in-laws. Add in a Covid surge and my hard-eyed risk assessment, and you have a recipe for change.

I was mulling this as I completed my pared-down preparations this year. Two kinds of Christmas cookies instead of four or five. Just my favorite, "can't do without them" decorations instead of hauling up every bin from the storage room. A simple meal for Mike and I Christmas Eve and a second one with just my Mom Christmas Day.

There is a perpetual gripe that Christmas is too commercial and starts too early; and this year a global supply chain snarl gives us the opportunity to simplify and focus on what Christians believe Christmas should really be about. It's a chance for people with those complaints to follow through and actually make their Christmas closer to what we say is most important about December 25th.

This led me to an action I've resisted. The dear friend I lived with before Mike and I married is a talented at crochet. She made Mike and I Christmas stockings, in bright colors with our names, before we married. When our two kids came along, she made each of them one to match but unique in color combinations. Four more were added for our pets. When the kids got engaged, each of their partners got stockings as well; and she continued by gifting us with stockings for both the grandchildren. I received Archer's just weeks ago.

I always imagined having every one of the 12 stockings filled and hanging for a family Christmas with all of us together, but so many things interfere. So I did what felt logical; I mailed everyone their stockings, just retaining the original two for Mike and I; and the four for our pets. They were made to be enjoyed; now it will just happen in three places instead of one. It was a bit painful acknowledging the reality of life and new traditions; but I am pragmatic, and I also felt overwhelming gratitude.

Gratitude for our friend who gave us such a meaningful gift, that we continue to enjoy 36+ years later. Gratitude she continues the tradition of adding stockings as our family grows, although she lives so far from us now. Gratitude for our bigger family. And most of all, gratitude my family is healthy and well; and will figure out a safe way to enjoy gatherings in 2022. Something to look forward to, and a joy to contemplate.

I also think about families facing real hardships".those with spouses or kids serving our country in far-away, sometimes risky places. Those who are watching someone they love slip away in hospice care. The many, many of you who have someone in the hospital battling illness or injury.

I think of those of you who are alone, who won't have anyone at all to share the holidays with.

I think about those who will work through the holiday in patrol cars, fire houses and convenience stores, so that we are safe and have the necessitates we forgot. And first of all in my heart right now; the doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, hospice workers and support staff in our hospitals, urgent cares and nursing homes. God bless all of you, and your families, for this sacrifice you are making for the well-being of others.

As for us, our Christmas will be smaller and quieter. I am at complete peace with it. There will be church, and football. Over the river and through the woods to Mom's house Christmas Day. And I will have time to reflect on what is really important about Christmas, something you can't find in any shipping container sitting on a dock. I have a tremendous amount to be grateful for.

Song stuck in my head: "Snowfall" by the Four Freshman. So calming, so sweet. Almost a lullaby.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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