Suzy's Blog/December 2005 Click for Suzy's Blogs Summary  
Suzy Smith
Christmas is over my 7 year old granddaughter tells me. Done. I am trying to interest her in making some ornaments for their gorgeous, big tree which will probably be standing another week. This surprises me. Visions of sugar plums are still dancing in my head. Is this a generational thing I wonder. The young always moving on to the the next, new thing, while we elders hold on tightly as Christmases to come no longer stretch into infinity. Whatever, I'm still thinking about it.

My granddaughter is too, in her way. She has brought a bag with some of her Christmas presents to our playdate. In it are Crystal, her American Girl doll, some of Crystal's pets, and an interesting art box which reflects pictures you can draw. Five days away from Christmas and she can't part with them, even though she says, positively, "Christmas is over!"

Her brother and Granddad are spending the afternoon learning about motors, putting together a kit Granddad gave him for Christmas. It is a happy, togetherness time for all of us.

You see, my precious granddaughter, Christmas isn't over, ever, we carry it forward. You'll remind us during the year that you got Chrystal for Christmas and all the love that happened in the giving and getting will come with your words. And just possibly your wonderful brother might have a chance to strut his new knowledge of motors at school or to a friend and the memory of that rainy afternoon assembling the kit will come back, filled with the warmth and love of those moments of togetherness.

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Suzy Smith
The GRAND EVENT has come and gone. The Christmas tree looks a little lonely without it’s packages, and the greens that adorned the mantle are dripping needles. How quickly it comes, how quickly it passes. We were not the family hosts this year which engendered some feelings of loss, no hustle and bustle in the kitchen, no house full of happy voices. I missed that. But, we celebrated with a special breakfast of dutch babies, a fluffy, soufflé-like, fruit filled pancake and read the Sunday papers leisurely before attacking our packages. I sat on one sofa, Granddad on the other as we piled our packages on the coffee table between us. Granddad is great with presents, so whether we’re alone or with our family, he always makes Christmas special. After the unveiling and accompanying oohs and ahhhs, we looked at one another and admitted, we were each utterly exhausted. It’s a hectic run up to Christmas. A great sense of relief descended as the last package was unwrapped. We closed our eyes and soon both of us were sound asleep. So much for happy voices and bustle in the kitchen, this was wonderful.
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Suzy Smith
The celebration of Christmas is ever evolving. I hear my friends say, with a hint of nostalgia, they will never have their whole family together again at this time. Oh yes, sooner or later this has to happen, doesn’t it. As our families expand, there are other family responsibilities for our children beyond ourselves. We have to share them. Hopefully we can do this with grace, nobody likes demanding grandparents.

I think it’s called letting go.. Some lyricist wrote - “letting go is hard to do” and he was right on. But, haven’t we always been letting go from the day we learned to walk? Aren’t we always moving on in life? I wasn’t paying any attention at the time I was making my moves, they seemed so natural: off to college, off to life and a career, off to marriage and motherhood. But now this forward momentum carries a tinge of loss, doors seem to be closing not opening. I begin to look back rather than forward. I am sorry to be letting go, and, I’ll admit, I’m not always graceful about it, but the up side is, there are lots of things that are better left in the past. Now I get to be selective about the things I remember. I don’t have to relive the bad memories and can wallow in the good ones. Also, my role is no longer center stage, I’m not responsible for a grand event. In it’s way, that’s liberating. So let go, move on and have yourself “A Merry Little Christmas Now.”

Read by my friend Bev Docter at a luncheon today. We all got a little teary.


The children walk off
into crowds of strangers,
their laces are tied,
their backs straight.
they wave to you
from platforms you cannot reach
You want to hang on.
Running after them,
you thrust out small packages;
vitamins, a new blouse, guilt.
But they keep discarding
your dreams for their own.
They carry your admonitions
in their pockets
and their children will sing
your lullabies,
so that, finally, knowing this,
you let go.
they blur, fade
You settle back.
The years pass, silent as clouds.
Sundays, they come for dinner,
serve up slices of their lives,
but it's not the same.
Sometimes, in a crowd,
you will catch a glimpse
of long braids,
a ribbon streaming,
and you will remember -
a head beneath your hand,
a quilt tucked in,
small things snapping on a line.

Patricia Fargnoli
from Necessary Light (1999)

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Suzy Smith
Still wrapping, a little bit every day and the job is done ---- eventually. As it gets tedious, I begin to wonder if it truly is better to give than receive. Gifts are tough., both getting and giving. Today I asked a friend for a Christmas memory. “A happy one or a sad one?” she asked. I chose a happy one. She remembered the childhood Christmas when she got everything she wanted.. I asked my husband the same question and he remembered the Christmas he pouted the whole day because he didn’t get anything he wanted. You see what I mean, gifting is a tough business.. Gifts deceive us. They look so intriguing in their gay wrappings, but the reality frequently is not as good as the promise. Hard not to entertain thoughts like --- “how can I wear this, it’s so not me.” Or, “what was he thinking when he bought this?” Or worse, “this is insulting to my good taste and I’m stuck with it.” IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS, we remind ourselves.. The whole story is reflected in my grandchildren’s faces as we arrive on Christmas day with bags of presents. Such excitement, such anticipation. They are wonderfully transparent those little ones, so eager to unwrap, so full of the possibilities of discovery, but, is realization ever quite as incredible as imagination?. Sometimes, but not always. They open their packages. Why did you give me this asks our littlest one as she unwraps a gift that is a disappointment. Oh dear. And there’s our oldest, most fascinated by something I threw in the bag of gifts at the last moment, a freebie that came in the mail. You never know. Except….. I know the joy I had in assembling it all, my own excitement and anticipation as I picked out those pink slipper socks with the white fur trim for our youngest one, envisioning them on those little feet with such pleasure. Or the excitement of finding just the right airplane book for our oldest who right now is his plane period. This year if I’m asked WHY did you give me this, I know the answer. Because I love you.
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Suzy Smith
Coming down the home stretch with Christmas in six days. Started wrapping today. I get hung up on making those packages artistic, such a great opportunity to be creative. Am using both our snowflakes and the origami angel for decoration on plain red, shiny wrapping paper. This does, however, make wrapping a lengthy process. Unfortunately, I don’t seem capable of doing it any other way.

While wrapping, I thought about all those Christmases under my belt, Christmases that have been celebrated in four different families; my family of origin, the one in which I was Mrs. Claus, my husband’s family, and now with our son and his family. We get in such a tizzy over Christmas, but how many do we remember?

Celebrated with my family of origin, only three come to mind. We’ll begin with the Christmas when my sister got more packages than I did. Legitimate actually, she was getting married in a few months and Mother was outfitting her kitchen. Long after I had finished my packages, she was still unwrapping. That was 53 years ago, but I haven’t forgotten! Then there was the Christmas Mother disappeared. She’d had enough of Christmas and an ungrateful family, so Christmas eve she quietly left. No histrionics, she was just gone. We probably noticed when we got hungry. Well into the next day, she returned. We opened our packages tearfully that Christmas morning, wondering where she was. Turns out, she had gone to a neighboring town called Moberly and spent the night in a hotel. It took quite awhile to forgive her for that episode, but not too many years down the road, when I too was a Mother and Christmas was overwhelming, I understood where she was coming from. Now, my sister and I laugh each Christmas as she asks me “How is Christmas coming?” and I reply, “I’m on my way to Moberly!”

Finally come the memories of that first Christmas home from college when I learned first hand, you can’t go home again. How could so much have changed in three and a half months?

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Suzy Smith
How are you going to celebrate Christmas? I have a friend whose family “makes” their presents for each other. This doesn’t have to be a grand creation, it can be the sharing of a beloved poem, the playing of a song. Any sharing of self is appropriate. The children get packages too. I liked that idea, but it didn’t fly with my family, they are not only too busy, but plead a total lack of talent. (not true) Despite their lack of enthusiasm, Granddad and I are going to run with the idea. He will read the story of the Nutcracker and I will play snatches of the music on the piano. In future years, I suspect this will be remembered more than the other gifts we are giving. We did this years ago when our son was in grade school. I have never forgotten the sculpture my husband gave me, a toad who started out in feet and ended up in inches as he got perfected. A family story that always brings a smile.
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Suzy Smith
Last Sunday, 60 Minutes did a segment on new houses being built across the country. Perfectly livable old houses are being torn down and replaced by houses of 11,000 square feet or more, most of them grander than Tara. And the staircases! Rhett would never make it to the top carrying Scarlett, his passion would be spent before he got there. The segment came to mind the next day when a friend, basking in the glow of Thanksgiving spent with a new grandbaby, asked me, “What do you give a 9 month old baby to play with when he’s getting fussy? A wooden spoon!” she said before I could come up with an answer. My, how our needs expand. Why is that?
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