Christmas from the attic

Carolann and I spent this past weekend getting Christmas out of the attic.

She goes up and hands everything down to me, box after box of Christmas treasures we’ve collected together for nearly thirty years.

A lot of people these days hire professional house light hangers.

They do a beautiful job. Too good, if you ask me. Everything’s weirdly perfect. And it’s expensive.

And I think there’s something wrong about sitting inside the warm house watching TV while strangers decorate your yard. Wrong for me, anyway.

We used most of what we’ve had for decades: boxes of tangled, ancient light strands in various sizes, some all-white, some multi-colored; some working, some not. We have one light in the line of dozens along the driveway that flashes. Just one. That’s fine.

Decorating tip: dangling cords can be hidden behind brick columns.

We didn’t do any precise planning. We sort of decided where to put stuff as we went. The pros get their work done in a couple of hours or less, I guess. We spent two days and part of a third. We’re still not sure we’ve finished.

Through the process we made three or four trips to the big box hardware store and wound up spending almost as much money as we would have for the professionally perfect jobs though ours is a decidedly unprofessional result.

It’s a bit of this and that but I like it.

We’re proud that we have no giant blowup characters powered by air at night but left to puddle, lifeless, all over the yard during the day.

See, to passersby our Christmas display is just another mish-mash of color and cords I suppose but to us it represents Christmases past, when our kids were little and we were young.

It means absolutely everything to us.

Our house, self-decorated. Perfect in its imperfections.

The Santa Problem

If you’re a parent of a young child chances are you have at least a little bit of guilt this time each year. It’s the Santa Claus dilemma. What do you tell your kids? When do you tell them and how?

I vaguely remember my mother telling me it was the spirit of Santa Claus that mattered.

I don’t have a lingering sense of being injured by this revelation. I’m sure I was disappointed but I have never felt betrayed by it.

I would never tell other parents how to raise their kids. It’s not my place and even though I have a couple of my own who turned out pretty well I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject. But if you’re wondering, here’s what I think about Santa:

Disappointment is part of life. It helps kids grow and to reason with their feelings.

What would be really sad for me is if I had grown up with no sense of magic in the world.

I’m 66 years old and I guarantee this Christmas Eve, like all the Christmases of my life, I will go outside or look at the sky through a window and search for that miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. I don’t expect to see it, but you never know. And that’s what matters most in the world.

Our youngest grandson, Tyler.

Of all the things we gave our boys I am most proud of giving them wonder and magic.

There’s no lie in it. There is only eternity.