Having an undecorated Christmas

Having an undecorated Christmas

December 18, the calendar says. Only a week until Christmas, and I haven’t put up any decorations. I may not. 

Has a bah-humbug attitude overtaken me? 

I don’t think so. I’ve happily gone to the Chicago Greeter and my building’s holiday parties. I eagerly read the cards that are arriving and will email holiday notes this week. I think my neighbors Shawna and Joey are awesome for putting up a tall, live tree. The lights on two balconies to the south are welcome sights from my living room. I’m looking forward to going to Zoolights with friends on Thursday.

If I were going to be here for Christmas, not seeing ornaments and lights at home would be depressing. If I’d invited anyone over, I wouldn’t want my place to be without seasonal decor. 

But on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I’ll be at my parents’ house, where I’ll help cook two holiday meals. It’s there that I did loads of decorating. For many years now, my brother-in-law and I have decorated my parents’ home on the day after Thanksgiving while my sisters shop for my parents and themselves. It’s all-day decorating: two trees, a creche scene, fireplace mantel decorations, and outdoor lights and bows on bushes. Everything has to be found in the garage and hauled in, and then the empty boxes returned to the garage. 

If I’d felt like putting up decorations at home, I would have by now. I’m going to interpret not decorating here as a good sign: Maybe I’m better about not doing what I don’t feel like doing, not doing what’s expected. With increasing years comes increasing awareness that time is limited and precious and should be spent on want-tos. I’m far from great at avoiding musts, but I’ll take this as a sign of progress. 



I don’t know what the manners mavens say about them these days, but ecards used to be considered tacky. I admire people who make the effort to send traditional cards through US Mail. But electronic greetings work for me, so I use them, whether or not they’re de rigueur.

I send holiday notes from my email address, not an ecard that might go into the junk inbox. The note is dressed up with an image like the happy holidays greeting (pictured above) being used this year.

Everyone gets a separate email — no group greetings. People I see regularly receive a holiday wish, and faraway people I never see also receive a short update. I think short notes are welcomed; I’m disappointed by cards from distant friends that are only signed, without any update. I want to know whether they’re still working, how they’re spending their leisure time, where the children I last saw as grade schoolers are now. I understand, however, that writing news by hand in multiple cards is tiresome. E-greetings have the advantage there. Common text can be pasted in, with personalized messages added.

But I don’t mean to argue against the old-fashioned way. If you’re still sending cards through the post office, more power to you. But if you get an e-greeting from me, please consider it a no less sincere wish for a jolly holiday season.



This is the president of the United States calling a witness who has cooperated with his own Justice Department a rat. Say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we have ended up.” 

— James Comey, former FBI director

Filed under: Life lessons, Uncategorized


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  • We have always been Christmas decorating minimalists. We probably did more when we owned a house. We went through the period of buying live trees and then planting them after Christmas . . . at some point. Every time we've moved, we get rid of "stuff." We have moved three times in the same building. I do enjoy the season in public places and Christmas music. I'm not fond of the department store music which reiterates traditional songs in the current pop music scene. I lean towards jazz and classical.

  • I like "enjoy the season in public places" — and with other people.

    Happy holidays, Al.


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