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Christmas with the Smiths

My family has a history of being late.

If I tell you I'll be somewhere at 10, count on 10:15.

I swear it's genetic.

Don't believe it? Take this Christmas for example.

The Smiths gathered Sunday to celebrate the season with an old-fashioned fish fry -- complete with catfish, french fries and hush puppies.

You read that right. Sunday. As in Jan. 2. Eight days after Dec. 25.

Sure, there were good excuses: Mom and Dad both had to work Christmas, and Jan. 2 ended up being the best day for everyone involved.

I can't say I was disappointed. After all, it gave me a good argument for keeping my Christmas decorations up: "But honey," I said, "we can't take down the decorations. We're not through celebrating Christmas."

Miriam, I think, would have been perfectly happy taking down the decorations the day after Christmas. (Allow me a tangent for a second: I'm not sure where Miriam's new decoration timetable comes from. In the past, we've left decorations up well into January -- long enough to turn any fraser fir into the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.)

Well, the decorations weren't down by Dec. 26, so Miriam certainly wanted them packed up before the start of the New Year. That, after all, seemed to be the timetable for most of our neighbors.

We even asked some neighbors for their input. Mark Cheek suggested following European tradition and leaving the decorations up for 12 days after Christmas. Joyce Sparks said it would be OK for a couple of days after the New Year, then promptly had hers taken down within a few days after Christmas.

But it wasn't until our tree started to droop -- begging to be put out of its misery, according to my wife -- that we decided it was time to take down the decorations. That process started the day after the Smiths celebrated Christmas, and I'm not sure it will ever end. And if we ever do get it all taken down, I'm not convinced we've got enough room to store it. And I'm not about to go the route of my mother and have a separate storage building built just for Christmas paraphernalia.

Meanwhile, there was at least one bright spot at the Smith house Sunday: Pete may have finally figured his son out, redeeming last year's Health Link membership misstep with a handy, dandy golf gift certificate. He also bought me a freestanding worklight, strangely similar to the one that's already sitting in my laundry room. Of course, he'd probably like me to return that one to his house, since I "borrowed" it seven months ago.

I guess I'm a little late returning it to him. Blame it on my genes.

Web posted on Thursday, January 6, 2005


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