It’s about time I got out the Christmas DVDs. I identify with Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Like him, I always wanted to do Christmas up big. At one point we had all the relatives to dinner. We cooked a turkey according to a complex Italian recipe and bought a ham through the mail from Virginia. We had to soak the ham to reduce the salt, and then we simmered it in a pot we borrowed from a restaurant. When the restaurant closed, we acquired the pot, and it’s still in the cellar. When the ham had been soaked and simmered, we glazed it with brown sugar and baked it in the oven. The ham kept for a long time. We’d turn the bone into pea soup about the time the crocuses started to bloom.
Now we spend Christmas visiting the grandchildren. It’s great to be around them, but things have changed. As it so often happens after the onset of fogiedom, much has dropped away. I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. With the prediction of a cold snap, I went out to the garage and took the tree out of its bucket of water so it won’t be frozen in, when I want to set it up. I’ve enlisted outside help getting it into the stand. Annette and I could manage to get it to stand straight, but probably not without cross words.
I’ll still watch “Christmas Vacation,” and laugh at the funny parts, but it’s mostly to relive the past. I’ll decorate the tree to songs that were old when I bought the CDs years ago. You know, Gene Autry doing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and Bing Crosby crooning“White Christmas.” We just received a Stilton cheese from England and soon we’ll have some friends over, light a fire in the fireplace and pour the port.
I was out in the woods yesterday gathering greens to decorate the mantelpiece and windowsills. I bought poinsettias. When the house is decorated, we’ll have guests in to see it, but now the lights and greens are mostly for us. Like everything else, the display is simpler now, but we haven’t let Christmas slip out of our lives. My motto is one word – persevere.