Christmas plans don’t always work out.
Thousands of people across the country have discovered that fact today, if they didn’t already know it, and I am sure it’s hitting some people very hard.
Take heart. Christmas comes just once a year, but nobody said it had to be on December 25. Many people work on Christmas every year, from snowplow drivers to restaurant owners, and not everybody has a choice.
Christmas was always a big deal in my family, but when I was a child we very rarely celebrated it on Christmas. No, it wasn’t on Christmas Eve, either.
Generally speaking it was December 26 or maybe even after that when my family jammed the contents of our entire home (or so it seemed) into the car and headed to grandma’s house, which was over the highway and through the fields, then through some other fields, and then through some more fields. Southern Minnesota has lots of fields.
My dad is a minister, so as long as I can remember he’s been doing something or other for work on Christmas, whether it’s a midnight service Christmas Eve or some other festive, cheerful church service on the honored day itself. I never felt bereft, though, when our family had to stay behind on Christmas Day, or when dad kindly chose to stay by himself so the rest of us could go to grandma’s.
We kids got our loot on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, which was fun, but then we made the trip to our grandparents’ house, which was where Christmas really began: with 13 or so adults trying to manage 15 children of various sizes and ages. Mostly we were herded to the basement, where we proceeded to break or maim many of the toys we had just received. We had fun doing it, because we were together.
Later I learned the adults actually preferred children to sit upstairs while they told family stories, provided you behaved yourself reasonably well. They’d pass around dozens of Christmas cards, photos and letters, and you could learn a lot about the family that way, especially if they forgot you were there.
And of course there were cookies of every possible shape and size: krumkake, rosettes and lefse, the traditional Norwegian goodies, and the special German butter nut horns from my dad’s side of the family that my mother slaves over, along with dozens of sugar cookies liberally dusted with colored sprinkles, thumbprints, peanut butter stars and my very favorite, the understated currant cookies, which may in fact be made of Christmas, cut somehow down into cookie form.
It was Christmas.
Sometimes it wasn’t December 25, but it was Christmas all the same.