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by David Todd McCarty | Sunday, December 20, 2015

 

Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve in my parents house was not a time for presents, egg nog, extended family or any particular food item. It was the night before the event, not the event itself.

Our main tradition on Christmas Eve was to go to church. We’d grumble a little maybe, asking if we really needed to go, but really, it was the best service of the year. Unlike the Catholics, Christmas Eve service didn’t count for Sunday service. It wasn’t a Mass. It was an extra service. Special.

I grew up Orthodox Presbyterian. The Christmas Eve service was always very traditional. The pastor would tell the Christmas story. Maybe some kids would recite a few Bible verses. Maybe a small choir would sing. But mostly, the pastor would read from the Bible, say a few words, and then the rest of the service would be devoted to lighting candles and singing Christmas carols.

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by David Todd McCarty | Saturday, December 19, 2015

 

 

Christmas Presents.

I love packaging, which is why I used to like wrapping presents so much. I would spend hours and hours wrapping each present by hand (how else would you wrap them?), using brown paper and twine, raffia bows and handwritten notes. I hung tags from them and decorated the outside.

I think it was my first Christmas with the woman who was to become my wife and her three children, I had spent a lot of time, thought and money buying presents that year.

I don’t think I went overboard on the kids. I got them each a few nice things, but I wasn’t trying to win them over or anything, and they were all pretty young. I was, however, trying to impress the girlfriend.

I meticulously wrapped each gift with brown kraft paper. Then I hand-wrote a small card for each gift, explaining why I thought it was a good gift. Each card was enclosed in a handmade envelope. The package was then wrapped in a raffia bow and the envelope hung from the twine.

What can I say, I was in love. It was one of my best Christmases ever.

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by David Todd McCarty | Friday, December 18, 2015

 

Christmas Shopping.

There is a story that is very much a part of the lore of Christmas in my house. It involves my mother and she doesn’t even remember it happening.

She was in Macy’s buying a pair of gloves for someone, presumably by father, and there was a line at the register. It was the height of the season and tensions were high. The cashier was apparently getting frazzled and by the time my mother got to him he expressed his displeasure.

“I’m sorry,” he said after snapping about something. “I’m just tired.”

“Well,” my mother countered. “We’re all tired dear.”

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by David Todd McCarty | Thursday, December 17, 2015

 

Christmas Decorating.

I’ve already covered Christmas Tree decorations, so I won’t be covering that here. If you missed it, go back to Part One and start over. Stop skipping around. These are rules, not suggestions.

Today I want to talk about decorating for Christmas. This is something that I accept as a very personal matter, so I’m much more loose about this aspect of Christmas. To each his own, as they say. I don’t care much how you decide to decorate your home for Christmas. This is how I choose to decorate mine. I’ll go ahead and just say for the record, before my wife Jane jumps in here, that I don’t do any of the decorating, so this is more of a theoretical discussion. I will also go on record saying that Jane does a wonderful job and we share a common aesthetic, so it’s all good.

Now that we no longer have kids living in the house, we’ve more or less dispensed with the childlike, tackier decorations usually associated with young children. For instance, if we were to have a Santa, he’d be a whimsical, folk art Santa, as opposed to a cartoon Santa. That sort of thing.

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by David Todd McCarty | Wednesday, December 16, 2015

 

Exterior Illumination.

Just like Rusty, my father taught me everything I know about exterior illumination, which is absolutely nothing. My father is not a handy man and I inherited this lack of skill. We never had lights on the outside of our house, or in the trees, or any of that happy horseshit, and I for the most part, never did at my house either. I’ve toyed with the idea over the years, but it seems like a lot of work, for not a lot of reward, and then you have take them down. While my father did not believe in hanging exterior lights, I think he enjoyed the concept, because we would all be loaded into the station wagon and driven around housing developments, looking at other people’s lights. Maybe he was just giggling to himself that at least he didn’t have to take them down. Maybe he really liked them. Maybe he was just killing time. I’m not really sure. I’ll have to ask him.

For the most part, the decorated house runs in three categories: Sad, Tasteful and Excessive.

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