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  • David Jace

From Holiday to Holiday

The end of the year moves from one holiday to another, as though people feel the need to celebrate, to come together, to take a break. We started a new tradition for our Halloween this year. Recently, especially since the pandemic, lighted houses on our streets have grown farther and farther apart, and costumed visitors fewer and fewer, making the joy of trick or treating dwindle. For me, Halloween isn't about the horror and fear that so many relish, but about the costumes and joy of magic. Honestly, I wish more yards were filled with elf houses and unicorn feed instead of gravestones and cobwebs. I smile at the long-bearded wizards and Trekkie uniforms much more than the ripped faces and bloody talons.

So, this year, we booked a couple of nights at Great Wolf Lodge, including Halloween itself. We had an absolute blast. There was trick or treating in the evenings, and days full of MagicQuest adventures (and water park wildness)! We of course, went in costume, as a family of wolves, and had more family fun than we've had in years. We did also watch a number of family Halloween movies during the month (Hocus Pocus, The Addams Family, Haunted Mansion, etc) to get our share of spooky fun as well. 10/10 will repeat next year!

As happens every year, November follows October, and we get a time to be thankful for our joys, and share our sorrows with our families. Or perhaps, for some, our families ARE the sorrows. For so many, the holidays are bittersweet, both for the family that are there and for the family that, for whatever reason, aren't. We enjoyed our traditional turkey and gravy, the full house, and the family tradition of watching The Christmas Story as the inaugural season movie.


And now Christmas is almost upon us. We had grand plans this year. We would leave on the 23rd to visit with one side of the family, stay in a hotel a couple of nights, and gorge ourselves on family games before Christmas Eve festivities. On Christmas morning, we planned to drive back, stop in at home to trade out packages, and then over to spend Christmas day with our closer extended family, for our "Seven Course Christmas." (I'll post that schedule below; it's a joyous all day event.) We'd come home sleepy and full, with a trunk full of presents that night. On the 26th, we would finally do our home Christmas, probably starting with the cats' presents. (New lounging houses for them, but sh- don't tell!)


Like the best laid plans of elves and reindeer, things often go awry. Earlier this week, I started coughing, then I took a fever. As I was at my lowest, my wife started coughing. I am feeling better now, but my wife was wise enough to take an at home test, and we have Covid. Out the window go all of our wonderful holiday plans. The non refundable hotel room will go unused. We won't see the distant family until much later, but the near family has offered to bring over some Christmas dinner and presents. A far cry from the grand plans we'd laid. However, I am home with my family, and I am very happy about that. Like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, I say "Shazamm! Unto you a Child is born!" This Christmas may not be going as planned, but it's still going great.



The 7-Course Christmas


This is the idea behind the 7-course Christmas. You have each course of the meal, and follow it with a round of presents. An hour or so later, you have the next course, and another round of presents. You can quickly see how this becomes a full day event. Instead of half an hour of furious flying wrapping paper, we get a whole day of presents and good food, getting to focus on each one and each other. There has been recent talk of adding "reindeer games" to the tradition, but I'll have to report on that for next year.


Course 1: Appetizers. We usually do a meat-and-cheese tray, but of course, whatever works for your family.

A round of presents, one per person, one at a time, starting with the children. (ProTip: make sure their first present is something to play with or read, not a sweater.)

Course 2: Salad

Presents

Course 3: Cocktail. Our family often enjoys a shrimp cocktail, or a bowl of meatballs, again, what works best for your family.

Presents

Course 4: Soup

Presents

Course 5: Entree / Main Course. This is the "big meal" with meat and sides.

Presents

Course 6: Dessert

Presents

Course 7: "Digestives". I believe this is genereally considered to be an evening coffee and chocolates, but honestly, we're usually so full that we don't even make it to this course!

But of course, Presents. At this point, all that are remaining.


I know this seems like a lot, and it is. It's also a wonderful way to make Christmas last all day long. And if you're trying to count the presents, it's not as bad as it sounds. If there are 7 or more people in the family, and each person buys presents for each of the other people, that's almost enough right there. Remember that not every present has to have a "gold bow" on it. The whole point of a present is just a way of saying I care about you. Which was the whole point of Christmas in the first place. God saying He cares about you.

So whatever you celebrate, remember why you celebrate it. And I wish you Merry Christmas, and all of us a happy new year.

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