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Christmas traditions and one fallen angel

Here we meet again, at the corner of chaos and Christmas.

Oh, some have mastered what it takes to prepare for the mad onrush of time that happens twixt Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, but not I. My neighbors had their tree up and sparkling as I stashed away faux fall décor. They may have opened presents and toasted the New Year, as well. A highly organized group, they’re the ones who aim their leaf blower at falling leaves, piloting them into a waiting sack.

Things were different when I was a kid, of course, yawning while crossing off each day on the calendar growing closer to that blessed event, and enjoying fun programs and projects at school. What did I care? There were no sword-wielding demands hanging over my head, ready to lop it off for leaving butter cookies unadorned. I’ve learned that the sword is in my hands and to give myself ease. I (heart) traditions of the season, and that is my challenge.

Church nativities are a childhood tradition and memory. When I was about 12, they tagged me to be an angel for the play. Yes, an angel. The woman in charge was in overdrive. She wrapped the bottom part of the robe (sheet) around my chest. When I mentioned I couldn’t breathe, she said, “You don’t want it to fall off in front of everyone, do you?” Well, no. So she pulled it tight, fastened it with a safety pin and I passed out on the floor, never to be an angel again.

It remains a memorable part of my spiritual journey. She may have been the same woman of fervor who announced to the entire Sunday school class that she had missed me the week prior because I had a pimple. Mom had squealed. I mean, the whole purpose for staying home was to avoid the utter shame of a particularly forthright eruption.

One newer tradition has become special in its quirk factor. Each year as silver bells begin ringing throughout the land, I receive an e-receipt from the Shoe Carnival in Mishawaka, Indiana. Now, don’t freak out, but there is, apparently, another Peggy Dover. I took this as encouraging news, since I could use an extra pair of hands to finish up my Christmas chores.

I check my VISA online to ensure no impersonator is buying a pair of women’s sport traditional navy blue clogs in my name. I mean, it is my name, but it’s not me. I buy local. Each year I email the clowns at Shoe Carnival, telling them they sent their receipt to the wrong Peggy again. It has become a nostalgic connection. This year I sent them a fruitcake.

Another tradition that never gets old is choosing the tree. For the last few years, Lane and I have visited Carter’s Tree Lot in Butte Falls. Carter is a young boy and part of the Butte Falls community. He and his parents have bravely faced the challenges of his struggle with PKAN Syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration of the central nervous system. The community cuts trees and brings them to Carter’s big, red sleigh next to the Sugar Pine Cafe. Trees are sold by donation and all of it goes to help Carter and the Spoonbill Foundation, dedicated to finding a solution for PKAN.

This year’s tree-scouting day was particularly frigid, so Lane wore his raspberry puff coat. We call it that because it’s puffy and raspberry-colored. It’s so puffy that when I bumped him in the tree lot, he lifted off and floated a couple feet. It’s so puffy that when I take his arm, it’s gone. The coat is warm, though, and that’s the point. Giovanni the Honda dreads the outing because he is, after all, a city boy. Here he is reduced to imitating a pickup truck, cursing his fold-down seats all the way.

My favorite tradition gives meaning to all the others. It’s marveling again over the wonder of the birth of life through a poor infant. You are loved. Merry Christmas!

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.