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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Angst and Joy

I have never been one of those women (mothers) who go all out for Christmas.  I was reading yesterday about how millennials don't want their boomer parents to simplify Christmas--even when they might be at that stage of their lives and ready to give away the dozens of boxes of Christmas decorations they have accumulated.  We do not have dozens of boxes of decorations and never have.  And we are very happy with our little Christmas tree this year.  I have put up a bit of greenery and a few candles with the added motivation of two parties we are hosting for graduate students over the weekend.

When I was working I had the added tension of organizing a Christmas party for my students.  Santa always visited our Family Literacy celebration and brought gifts.  This meant finding a Santa costume and finding a Santa who looked like the children in our class.  Even after I changed to teaching regular Adult Education classes, I celebrated Christmas with a brunch for the students.

 There was joy in all of this. in the midst of the stress. One of my favorite memories is having the students find the Christmas story in Bibles and read it together.  Yes, it was a public school setting but I always felt this was totally appropriate.  One year, Ephraim, a 70 year old from Nigeria, was the only one who knew where the story was found.  He read Luke 2 slowly in his beautiful British-African accent and it was as if I was hearing it for the first time.

Last year, I was able to visit our children and grandchildren just before Christmas.  On a very cold night, we walked across campus to Princeton University Chapel and heard Katie and James sing with their Princeton High School Choirs.  I delighted in hearing Katie and other PHS carolers sing on Nassau Street and just wanted to sing along.   I am going to hear them again this year with the bonus of Michael's middle school choir concert and Sam's grandparents' tea.   Retirement gives me these opportunities.

Three hats for three grandchildren
But...Christmas always makes me stressed.  I want to give the perfect gifts to those I love so much.  And I don't know what that would be.  Little Alex at age one is easy.  I have ideas for Jasper, Sam, and Ruth.  But the older grandchildren and their parents?  I do not know. 

This morning I put out a request for ideas on Facebook.  Maybe I'll get some good suggestions!

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