Finding Christmas

A few Christmases ago I announced there would be no gift giving.

My children’s perspective on the holiday was awry.

They had become shallow and greedy. Christmas turned them into brats.

My son said, “But you’re taking away the best part.”

I raised a brow and he added, ” — the giving!”

Too bad. We were going to have a real holiday with a fire, caroling, charades and togetherness, and we were going to appreciate it with a good attitude, damn it.

This is when I discovered I truly am the boss. Everyone said OK.

I planned a Dec. 23 evening of caroling at hospitals, followed by egg nog and baked goods back at home. I invited the friends and neighbors of my parents, my kids and myself. It was glorious.

Christmas Eve I put on a turducken feast with the whole family — cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. There were hugs and games. Norman Rockwell had nothing on me.

Christmas morning brought the crowning glory of the whole year though, and it was a surprise to the boss.

We were lingering over the dregs of breakfast, and my mother was fussing with the remaining bacon. She was trying to give it away. Then she wanted to consolidate it to the potatoes plate. It was becoming disruptive.

I got irritated. I asked her to leave it lie.

Finally she said, “Heck with it.” She scooped all the bacon off and flipped over the platter. There was something taped to the bottom of it.

We looked at it and frowned. We looked at her. She just sat there. We looked at one another.

My grama reached out and took it. It had a line of hand-written music notes. There were shrugs and more looking around.

My mother just sat there. Nana passed it on.

Halfway around the table it got to my kids. They looked at it and read aloud by humming Deck the Halls in unison. Musicians and show-offs the both of them.

My mother finally spoke. “I thought you would go to the piano and play it.”

She was disappointed? We were all excited, what’s to complain?

We all ran to the hall. There were boughs of holly decked there. Tucked inside one was a slip of paper. It had a four-word crossword puzzle drawn on it.

Nana solved it. The four words led us out to the patio fountain. We found another clue there and a small basket of wrapped treasures. The hunt was afoot.

The six of us ran from clue to clue, puzzling them out as a team. Sometimes there were treasures too.

One of the clues was a rhyme about pressing against light. When we put the clue against a light bulb, invisible ink came to the fore and revealed the next destination.

Each was challenging and clever. Each played to a different family member’s strength.

It was more fun than opening gifts, which we returned to the next year, because doing Christmas right was too much work.


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3 Responses to “Finding Christmas”

  1. Will Says:


    Regular Expressions. (that one probably doesn’t work)

  2. T. Says:

    Will, this is the most nonsensical comment you’ve made yet, and that’s saying a lot.
    Can you translate that please?
    And what are you doing up at this hour?

  3. Jeremy A. Says:

    Maybe I should take a shot at answering for Will…

    Why is he up so late?

    Will is currently in Wales for the holidays.
    Wales is in the GMT time zone and is about 8 hrs. ahead of Redlands.
    I’ve been to Europe and the difference of 8 hrs. is a lot.

    What in the world does /\*(p|P)o.{2}l\*/ mean?

    My guess is that Will is probably testing the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (
    The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard is aimed at making your typing a little easier.
    I doubt that its easer, but you never know.

    Why doesn’t he make sense?

    Will is a super-genius/nerd.
    He aces his geometry tests, asks if we will ever use so-and-so’s theorem, and is dying to learn trigonometry.
    During lunch he talks about how he can make programs and software for just about anything.

    When listening to all of this, you can easily not understand half of what he is talking about.
    If you are reading this (Will), please feel free to correct me on anything.

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