We managed it again.
The Christmas tree is up, decorated and the lights are working. Truthfully, though, it is more of a challenge each year as we age.
Somewhat comforting, though, it seemed to be somewhat the same for our son and his teenage daughter. They were decorating as they chatted in an early December phone call, alternating words with some dust-induced sneezes and comments on a few insect carcasses
Their lights and ornaments had been stored in the garage, apparently it was not as well protected in plastic and cardboard as ours had been. (I refrained from suggesting a better plan for the future.)
This year more than recent past it seems, I’m finding joy in the little things.
It’s likely that again our family likely will not all be together Dec. 25, but we have memories of a splendid Thanksgiving, the first time we had seen two of the grandchildren in person since before the pandemic struck.
And there is a gift under our tree that our daughter left after the November holiday. She was excited about having found exactly what she planned earlier in the year, apparently at a special price.
What’s not about that to stimulate curiosity?
It’s an attractively wrapped gift, as always. She mastered that skill not from her mother but from a seasonal job at Stone & Thomas before the store went out of business in downtown Charleston 23 years ago.
The gift is somewhat heavy for the size.
It doesn’t rattle.
And it has been fun trying to guess what might be inside. A return to childhood, perhaps?
Maybe that is the point.
We live in a retirement community, yet many here have “young” attitudes. One resident, a mere 70 years old, teaches a Hula-Hoop class. Another, a 92-year-old who had hip replacements years ago, rides her bike every day except in really stormy weather. She showed others of us up by doing push ups in the three-times a week early morning — that is 7:45 a.m. — exercise class.
Obviously there are many in this community unable to do push-ups, even modified versions. There are classes for them as well and a variety of activities from memory-sharing gatherings to musical events.
The community tree trimming, which I missed this year, apparently was a success even when wind knocked out power — and tree lights — for about an hour. While there is a backup generator in the apartment and nursing care buildings, there were none in the community center where residents gathered for trimming the tree and caroling. Participants pulled out their cellphones flashlights to continue, I’ve been told.
To some degree I miss the annual mailbox collection of holiday cards, particularly those with newsy letters and notes of friends and families. The decline, which comes in part as we lose friends with the years, but more because we now have email, texts, social media, Zoom, and even old-fashioned phone calls.
That we still connect is more important than how, but yes, it was more fun to check the mailbox.
One of our senior residents who has a way with words, shared her holiday poetry. It reads in part:
There must be a million ways
To celebrate the holidays.
With traditions old and new
These are just some of my favorite few.
Make a wreath out of evergreens
Stop at all the nativity scenes.
Light the Menorah, spin the Dreidel
Set a festive Kwanza table.
Stuff the stockings with candy canes
Decorate your windowpanes. Bake some cookies, arrange on a plate
Eat some frosting while you wait.
The holidays are about spreading joy,
So no matter what you do,
Keep the spirit of giving going
The whole year through.
— Marge Jesberger, Lancaster, Pennsylvania