Holiday laughter

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(HOST) Ruth Page says “Don’t feel guilty if you indulge in joy on the holidays; it knits families together and nourishes their spirits.”

(PAGE) At last I’ve realized why we make New Year’s Resolutions just after the old year ends. It’s because the bustle of Christmas reminds us how cluttered our lives are. Many, perhaps most of us, resolve to simplify. This year we won’t spend a lot of money on presents for the holidays we celebrate. We’ll cut ‘way back. Remember: we resolved that last New Year’s.

My family, after about ten years of resolving to do so, have finally – after relentless pressure from the two daughters – actually taken steps to cut back. The daughters made a decision (without consulting mom, but then that’s been true since they were teens). They announced they’d give a few gifts to the various children, mostly pretty well grown up now, but would not give to each other. I claimed an exemption on behalf of Grandmothers who have spotted needs in the family – often minor, but still visible – that they truly want to fill.

The gifts needn’t be things, of course. I’ve kinda taken against Things: they’re cluttering up the world. But gifts can be an offer to underwrite a weekend away; or tucking into an envelope a promise to pay for an expert massage on a date of the recipient’s choice; or giving a gift certificate for a fillup or two for the family car; even making a commitment to help them clean out the garage or the cellar.

Subscriptions to magazines that fit with the kids’ concerns – or tickets to a musical or other show coming to the area in 2006 –
are always welcome.

My family does favor Christmas trees; we like their history, from Druidic ceremonies to German candle-graced trees to today’s glass-and-bow ornamented beauties. We’ve usually gotten blue spruces – they’re easy to decorate, smell deliciously woodsy, and delight any munchkins in the family, who help select them.

All the Pages love to cook, and that’s an important part of every celebration. Everyone contributes to our Christmas breakfast, with Philadelphia scrapple sliced thin and sauteed crisp, to Finnish sweet-bread, to cinnamon buns always made by mom when Bob and his family visit (to a chorus of “Yeah, you always did like Bobby best”).

Laughter is inevitable. At any family get-together, we reminisce and tease each other about past misadventures. We have at least one young family member who has always complained if she ever got a school-teacher with no sense of humor.

Should we feel guilty about being silly and happy at holiday times, when the world is in such a parlous state? I don’t think so. We worry enough the other 364 days of the year. Earth thrives on wholesome laughter.

This is Ruth Page in Shelburne, wishing you a Merry Christmas.

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