Well, it’s happened.  You made it through Thanksgiving and you’ve run straight into December.  The holidays are officially upon you.

How was your Thanksgiving by the way?  I’ve been pretty open about a lot of our family holiday traditions in the past.  It’s sorta cathartic for me.  But here’s one that I don’t think we’ve covered in our previous counseling sessions. It’s the Annual Meeting of the Adult Table.  You see when your family reaches a certain size, it becomes impractical, if not impossible, to put everyone at one table.  Therefore, multiple seating arrangements have to be made.  In our case it’s the Adult Table and the Kid’s Table.  Think of it like the Major Leagues and the farm teams. 

Now from year to year the number of players involved in the game changes. Some players are on the DL, some are visiting other family, some were traded to other teams. It gets complicated.  That means just because you were called up to the majors last year, there’s no guarantee you’ll be back this year.  It’s all about match ups and the needs of the team.  Even at 45 years old, I am routinely rotated on and off the Adult Table roster and sent back down to the Kid Table.  The reality is there’s not that much difference between the two tables.  At one you may be asked to spoon feed someone or change a diaper or referee a childish fight; and then there’s the kids table.  It all eats the same and there’s still dessert at the end.

We have a rule in my house (at least one that I abide by) that says “No Christmas -anything- until after Thanksgiving.” After that it’s on.  Every Holiday should have it’s day.  That means my wife wants to cover a lot of Christmas ground quickly following the turkey hangover.  It generally starts with pretending to set a Christmas gift budget.  Somehow just naming a random monetary figure makes us feel better; even if it has no connection to reality.  “This year I think the Christmas Budget should be $295.00.  That’s a 5% increase over last year and well within our means. Perfect. Me and the credit card will be down at the mall.”

For us the conversation falls apart quickly from there.  It starts when we’re deciding what we should get our daughter this year for Christmas.  Ann-Janette (whom I’ve nicknamed “Festivity Incarnate”) would like to set the gift limit for our daughter at 30 presents.  I would like to give her a box of sticks and some string and send her outside.  That’s what we played with as kids and it was fantastic!  We discovered fire, aeronautics and how to bandage an open wound…all in one day.  I don’t usually win this “conversation.”

We get even further away from the tiny baby Jesus when we talk about “decorating for the Holidays.”  Decorating to me means “adding to” or “accenting” with holiday flair; not a complete house make over.  If it takes more than a week to “decorate,” the Holiday Train has flown way off the tracks somewhere just south of the North Pole.  You shouldn’t have to light more trees than there are Days of Christmas.

My wife literally can’t operate our microwave, but somehow she can build Christmas Town in our house like she’s Bob Vila.  I don’t know how many times I’ve thought I had a minor stroke because I looked at the clock on the Microwave and it reads 2:39 at 10 in the morning. “How long have I been out? I can still feel my arms…that’s good.”  Then I realize that it’s just my wife trying to reheat her coffee, which requires her to randomly push every button on the face of the Microwave until eventually a light comes on and the plate inside starts spinning.

Today I start my internal countdown to de-Christmas-ing our home.  It may take us Twelve Days of Christmas to set it all up, but it only takes me two hours to get it all down.  Still though, even after we go through and check the entire house, there’s always that one Christmas decoration that holds out like a holiday refugee.  All the crates are back in the attic. The lights are down.  The trees are folded up. And bam!

Mr. Frosty shows up in the bathroom sometime mid-January.  I don’t know how he does it.

It is great having a kid during the Holidays.  They have no “to-do list” burden.  No financial woes.  They are unfettered.  Expectation and the number of days until December 25 are their only concerns.  I love that.

I love seeing trees in other people’s living rooms as you drive through the neighborhood too. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to put them up, but I think it’s because you imagine the holiday joy that might be going on inside.

A handful of times over the holidays I will try and be still; and with friends and on my own I will think about “Peace on Earth” and what I hope this season will renew in me.  When I was a kid growing up and going to Catholic school, we used to sing the hymn that said, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  I don’t know if there will ever be peace on this Earth.  It doesn’t seem like it.  But maybe that’s not what the call means.  Maybe it is the challenge to bring peace to the small part of the Earth we inhabit.  To bring peace to our homes, to our jobs, to the grocery store or Starbucks or (God help us) even to “the Walmarts.”

The older I get, the more it seems like “anger” is such a cheap emotion; such an easy emotion most of the time.  Outrage, anger, offense…they’re almost always the first to arrive on the scene these days.  But, they’re really just the fast food of emotional responses.  They’re easy, quick and once you develop a taste for them, they’re hard to quit.  Love and kindness on the other hand, these things take effort.  It takes maturity to have empathy.  It takes incredible strength and courage to be understanding, to consider “why” someone may do what they do or feel the way they feel.  It’s so much less challenging to grumble and complain and write an angry post on Facebook.  But where’s the peace in that? 

Peace on Earth is easy to sing and even easier to write on a card, but it’s no magical thing.  No blind wish.  It’s adults acting like adults and believing like children.  And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. 

I guess that concludes this session.  I’ll see you back here next month.  Right now I have some Christmas to build out at the house for Mrs. Clause.  Help me tiny baby Jesus and peace be with you.


“Peace on Earth & Other Silly Things”

By Jay Webster

Jay Webster is a

film/video director for the creative team at

PioneerDream. When not busy producing independent films, music videos or “actual bill-paying work” for real clients, Jay entertains himself by making “witty” observations about life in the beloved Ville.