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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Deep Christmas

BY THE TIME you read this it’s going to be what I call “Deep Christmas.”

Deep Christmas is when it’s really getting late to be finding those last gifts that have somehow rolled to the bottom of the list. It might be because that pink bunny outfit your poor nephew is living in fear of getting just wasn’t that easy to find. It might be because you made some new friends or got some new neighbors that had to be added to the original list. In my case I keep thinking I work under pressure. In reality I can be bad about procrastination when it comes to trying to find a gift for Mimi that says anything close to the way I feel about her. I also know a poem written by me probably wouldn’t do either.

A few years back we shook hands on any gifting for each other during the year. We would make it be something for the house. I’m sure we’ve all done it once. Then you wake up on Christmas morning to find out your spouse got you a little sumpin’ sumpin’ after the rules changed while you weren’t at the spouse-gifting meeting. So there you are standing there blubbering excuses as to why you’re standing there holding the empty bag. I always pull through but always by the hair on my chinney chin chin.

Deep Christmas by my definition is when I’m usually stuck on one Christmas song over and over in my head, singing out loud, whistling the tune. It’s a different one every year. It looks like this year’s obsession will be O Christmas Tree! I’m better off whistling it because that way I won’t have to make up the wrong words I deem fitting to rhyme with some of the right words. That can be good or bad depending on my mood.

Deep Christmas is when I give in to all those tempting Christmas movies. My family has a tradition of watching those old claymation movies made in the 60s. I never get tired of watching those things. It reminds me of simpler times when all we really had to worry about was whether or not the Heat Mizer would ever get along with his brother the Cold Mizer to see if they would allow there to be a snow in South Town.

Great life lessons can be learned by the Warlock putting one foot in front of the other. Simple words yet so powerful. I remind myself more than once during the course of the year that putting one foot in front of the other gets that momentum going and I believe that forward momentum is the key to life.

Now we have three Grinches to choose from. The original Dr. Seuss version from the 60s (my favorite), the one with Jim Carey in it which I can barely stand to watch because he’s a little too good at playing that part. Just gross. And the newest version of The Grinch is really funny. It’s got that whacked out goat that randomly screams from time to time for no apparent reason. That version of the Grinch tells a little more about what happened to him to make him so mean. I just always figured he must be in the nursery business and sold Christmas trees and became a burned out nurseryman. I’ve met some who are a lot like that. By the time Christmas arrives they begin to get a weird look on their faces.

There are a few new Christmas classics that are on our gotta-watch-them-all-bymidnight-on-the-24th list like The Polar Express. Got Tom Hanks - need I say more? I don’t know why they had to put in the scary part when the little boy had to walk through the train car that had nothing in it but broken marionettes with scary faces. I can live without anything to do with scary faced puppets and dolls. Elf, same with Will Ferrell. It’s going to make you laugh and it’s weird enough to use a Narwhal. Nobody gives Narwhals any movie credit. There are some good life lessons in that movie especially if you weren’t sure if sugar is in Maple Syrup. If you didn’t know that the four basic food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup then this might just be the movie to teach your kids the right way to get through life.

We always wait until late on Christmas Eve, after brunches, last minute wrapping, church and the last cup of eggnog to finish off the day with It’s A Wonderful Life followed by The Little Drummer Boy.

DEEP CHRISTMAS IS when whatever I have not got done in my yard just isn’t going to happen. We have the biggest tree form pyracantha I’ve ever seen. I started tree forming a large one about 10 years ago that is living in the beds at our home’s entrance of a long driveway. This pyracantha gets so loaded with tiny white blooms in the spring that it’s hard to see the green leaves with it. All of those tiny blooms turn into tiny green berries that hang on for months and begin to turn red around October. Every year I think it’s too early and that the berries will have fallen off or be eaten by birds before we have our clan over for Christmas brunch. Every year the red berries hold on tight and give me a great show.

My hollies are heavily loaded this year and my tractor seats (farfugium) are blooming up a yellow storm. All of these berries and blooms can be used in arrangements around the house. If you don’t have any farfugium in your yard, especially in the shadier places, you need to find some. On our website this week I will have some photos of ours planted in mass, blooming their heads off this time of year. They have beautiful rounded, leathery leaves that are wonderful even without blooms. They easily survived last year’s winter storm. I highly recommend them. They do great in pots or planted in the ground. We take up vast amounts of space in our yard with them because they are winners.

One of my new favorites is a variety of mahonia called Soft Caress. This shade tolerant Mahonia blooms gorgeous, thick yellow blooms that’ll knock your socks off. Mimi uses this plant in some of her winter pot planting because it blooms so well right along with the pansies and other winter bloomers.

Deep Christmas is a time we focus on our family more and work work work less. It’s time to set down our tools and our schedules and regular daily routines and our opinions about the direction our every day world is headed. It’s time to remember those that we’ve lost and those that we have gained over the year. I think we have three new babies at our brunch this year. That’s more people than we lost this year so I guess we can be thrilled about that.

I will be so glad to see my kids and their friends and nieces and nephews who are scattered all over the country in hot pursuit of the American dream. They are all doing some amazing things with their lives and it’s always so interesting to hear about their lives in this new world that is so hard to keep up with. I don’t even intend to try to keep up with it but I do love hearing about it from the trenches. Most of my nieces and nephews and my kids are entering the ages when they are contemplating buying homes, making big career moves and testing out relationships.

They are experiencing the funnest, most exciting time of their lives. It may seem like the most difficult and stressful time but I always remember those times as feeling a little more electric and important. Every move they make and everything they say and every dollar they can pinch at this time is so important as far as their entire future rests. I’m okay knowing that they won’t stay children forever but I don’t want to think about letting all of our Christmas traditions go.

AS LONG AS THEY WILL come home every year and watch the old Christmas specials with us and seem somewhat excited to wake up on Christmas morning and act Christmassy for one day I will be happy to experience Deep Christmas slowly take over the season every year.

I’m hoping that everyone has a great Christmas at your home, however you family does it.

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