“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

~Calvin Coolidge

The scale of annual holiday celebrations varies greatly in my household from year to year. Neither my husband nor I are particularly religious, and, before children, we let our families handle the celebrations. Around the time when our eldest was three, we caved on the idea of a tree – especially since our families had grown more scattered over the years, and the annual shopping event that Christmas has become pretty much required that we do something.

We started out with living trees. Ones that we could plant out back when the ground unfroze. They did not fare particularly well, so after three years, we gave up, and tried an assortment of cut and artificial trees. The one in the photo – taken in 2014 –  was about 10 years old and had lights wired in, but it is now wherever artificial trees go when they die. At this stage of our lives, with a retirement move looming a few short years ahead, we aren’t planning to purchase another large tree. This year we just a small potted evergreen perched on a footstool.

The numbers in our household vary from year to year also. High school age foreign exchange students for several years – all adding their own traditions (which included the Asian New Year twice). Extended family members, and friends, living with us or just visiting. One child became two, then one was away, back again, and now away again. Our youngest child is not really young anymore, so the nature of the celebrating, and the types of gifts, changed over time. The year that we went to Williamsburg for a colonial Christmas experience we put up no tree except the small fiber optic one we brought to the hotel.

For many years my husband worked all holidays, so we juggled our day to fit the family dinner and something festive in – especially when we had visitors. It’s been easier for the past couple of years now that our schedule is more ‘normal’ – whatever that is. And it’s even easier now that my husband has retired, and my younger daughter is not working retail.

This year we have no high school exchange students, our elder daughter is now living & working in Japan, and our boarder has left the nest. It is only my younger daughter, my husband and myself these days. Still feels kind of strange after so many busier holidays, but actually kind of nice. The past couple of years we opted for dinner out, but this year we’re staying in (given the forecast, that was probably a wise decsion).

Merry Christmas to everyone that celebrates.

The photo is of 2014’s tree, lovingly decorated by my daughters and several of their friends.