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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

My Statute of Limitations

By Joanne Zimmermann

Recently, two of my good friends expressed a lot of tension regarding the approach of the Christmas season. Gee, it is only March and already a sense of dread exists with them.

They are not spring chicks; both are upside of 65. It seems that they are still the designated, all-purpose Holiday Organizer-in-Chief.

A few of my peers are invited to their children’s homes if the kids are thoughtful and kind. If not, some women escape and run away on cruises or trips abroad, keeping their destinations secret.

The problem seems complicated in families that have split apart, then multiplied with additions of new partners. There is a step-this and that and all the new arrangements come with undertones of one-upmanship. With the new stepmom some 30 years younger, it can really make us look rather useless, cranky and outdated.

I wish there was a certain age at which those expectations expire. I would vote for 29, but then I guess that is not going to happen. So, most women are left with how to back out (before their back is out) of this super job gracefully.

Some ideas here would be to hint of early Alzheimer’s and ease into it with bizarre plans such as drawing numbers for one gift ONLY and having a covered-dish picnic somewhere far, far from home, changing the location at the last minute.

Thus there would be no decorating. Those huge “easy-to-assemble” trees, thousands of ornaments (don’t get sentimental here), cute toilet seat covers and matching Kleenex box covers would not be deployed.

Seasonal table settings would not be needed either and of course, Christmas cards could be skipped. You could write one last bragging letter with names of people you made up. Be sure to mention your dinner at the White House and your latest trip to the ice hotel in Norway.

I don’t mean to skip Dad’s importance so show him bandaged head to toe after falling off the roof installing lights. If you have been doing this all these years, send a picture of yourself.

If the season entails being a hostess for a week or so, there is all that crack cleaning, new bedding, crib renting or buying many items that will not see the light of day for the next 12 months. Some have tried having dinner out but not all can afford an $800 dinner bill.

So what do you do and wasn’t this supposed to be “Happy Holidays?” For whom, I ask?

The merchants might raise their hands. And they are more than prepared earlier than ever if you escape this one. Often they are so far ahead of themselves that we become confused. Half-priced Halloween wigs displayed too closely to Santa suits might be mistaken for elf wigs, especially if they came in red or green.

Therefore I do solemnly propose:

“HalloThanksHanukChristNewYear” for the fall and “ValPresStPatEaster” in the spring with Fourth of July attached to either one, your choice.

But even simper would be to just have one, giant, all-purpose holiday and the rest just freebies. They would be theme-less unless they were going to be “parent appreciation” days. I think I would like that.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Nicely written,Joanne, and point taken..

May I steal your "Parent Appreciation Day" idea? I love it...

I absolutely loved this and I wholeheartedly agree! So happy
ValPresStPatEaster to you Joanne!

Please don't take away my holidays, but do take away the greeting cards. There seems to be a new one for everything, probably even groundhogs day. I hate email Christmas greetings. Why can't people be themselves and send an actual greeting they made themselves. We are not all artists, but that's OK, it would just be personnel and like the sender. Also would keep our rural post offices open with all that new business.

Joanne - Funny story.

Your solemn proposition is creative - BUT you appear to be plotting to bankrupt Madison Avenue and our nation's retailers! Clearly, this would not be helpful in 'putting America back to work', or for re-electing the current Administration! - Sandy

My buying Christmas Gifts for everyone in our family ended last year. As the 'elder' in the family, Instead I revived an old tradition that my mother started when she was in her seventies. She sent each of us money. With the caveat that we had to buy ourselves a gift before Christmas, and put it under the tree so Bob and I would know how we used our money. The reaction was interesting--from 'what is this all about?" to "I love it. I remember when grandma used to do it." I added one additional activity which was a "pay it forward" to be done the month before Xmas and reported to the family at the get-together. Reactions to this were also interesting.
We skyped the two adult grandchildren living too far away to make the trip so they could join our celebration.
So....I guess I am gradually turning over pieces to the rest of the family so maybe they will remember the traditions and their changes throughout the years--getting together being the most important. To be honest I ignore the other holidays.
Michigan Grandma

From the male point of view theses holidays seem to stack up one behind the other. Your idea on group holidays sounds like a great idea. I don't climb anymore.
How do we get on board of your ideas. Down deep I'll bet 90% of people get tired of all og the artifialness
Great idea lovely story.
How do I find a lady withsuch sensible thinking?

I guess I knew all along that I was not alone…

I’ve been hearing more and more of people my age purposely planning their yearly getaways to coincide with yearly get togethers.

Good story!

Yes, yes, as George's father
(on Seinfeld) said, "Happy Festivis!" I want to dance the
dance of freedom!

Good story and some good ideas. Especially liked Michigan Grandma's plan, and not just because we also are Michiganders. I'm going to try to sell her approach to my family well before next Christmas.

For Ralph-
Right under your nose.

My mother stopped celebrating all holidays when she was in her early thirties. She had experienced them all as a very homesick patient the year she had to stay at a state tuberculosis sanitarium. From then on she celebrated life by giving all year long by making beautiful quilts, crocheted tablecloths, knitted wool socks etc. She made everyday special by giving her time, her talents and her love.

I'm late to the party, but wanted to weigh in: I love your post and your whimsical writing. I see it hit a chord with a lot of people. Count me in--what used to be such fun is now an ordeal, and I have declared freedom from nearly all of the holiday madness. Just keeping a year's end communication with friends--that's important to me.

Great points in here, tho we savor the greeting cards with letters. That's often the only time we hear from those people. We flee on a trip at Thanksgiving, tho, so we don't have to deal with visitors here or going some other place. Sadly, my mother so overdid the holidays by insisting we come "home" that I now find us fleeing any kind of family reunions. Parents need to give a little breathing space to their kids when it comes to the holidays. There comes a time when children need to start their own hosting and their own traditions. Thanks for getting me thinking this morning.

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