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December 3, 2014 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Mixed marriage. Possibly genetic.

Awkward, but must face it. It’s a mixed marriage.

Nurture or nature? Environment or genetics? Pointless debate.

You’re either a Christmas Person, or you’re not.

couple.1933 movie trailer for 42nd Street. George Brent and Bebe Daniels/ cr/

I know it’s difficult to overcome, but if we try, we can make it can work. (1933/

Not talking Griswolds or the Great Christmas Light Fight.

Or the manic bright-eye caroling Martha Stewart crafty ones who fill every nook and corner with holiday decor…and leave it up all year round.

(The ones you know are headed for a crash and burn-out eventually…usually after the divorce. ..Simply too much pressure for the spouse.)

Just about those who enjoy all the jolly holly holidays.

December in schools used to be heavy with the smell of construction paper.

You could almost taste it in the hallways.

Picky kids would go through the paper pile searching for the red sheets that weren’t faded and the few dense inky black sheets that were left over from Halloween’s black cats and witches.

Cotton balls, glitter, and maybe, if lucky, some multi-colored stars that you had to lick and hope they would stick.

Classrooms were adorned with construction paper projects with red and green paper chains looped everywhere. (Chains that were finally stapled when the glue kept letting go.)

1963. Jay North. jeannie Russell in Dennis the Menace series pub.pix. / CR/ photo/

Don’t be duh. Heart is especially needed at this time of year.(1963.CBS /

Then the last day of school before the holidays, it all came down, and kids rushed home with their decorations in their arms.

Travel down the neighborhood and it was easy to tell from the proudly displayed childish  decorations on doors and windows which teacher each child had.

There was a lot of competition among teachers for the most creative, the most beautifully, the most failsafe projects.

Easy to see, too, which moms allowed more crafty holiday entertainment.

And provided scraps of lace, rickrack, sequins, and more!

Lucky kids got to whip up Ivory soap into snow to slather on their pictures.

There were moms willing to spend money on spray-on snow in a can to use with stencils on windows.

Such joy. Such clogged vacuum cleaners.

So quaint, the windows crowded with childish art.

Lucy with two boys. 1955. Lucille Ball with toddlers as Little Ricky on I Love Lucy Show. CBS/USPD:pub/ cr/

And they probably all had matching Christmas sweaters, too.(1955.Lucy.CBS/USPD:pub date/

Now everyone feels obligated to have a professional looking seasonal display.

Readily available yard inflatables make it so easy: Toss, plug in, and done.

(FYI: That entire flock of inflatables pictured in last week’s post are all sold. Gone! Flew the coop. Ceiling is as bare as NASA’s Space Shuttle hangars. Amazing.)

Even modest suburban neighborhoods have services that swoop in and install all the lights any elf could possibly imagine. And take them down again.

Realistically, that may save on trips to the ER.

Instant blimp-like yard decor is perfect for those who must keep up appearances, but are really, at heart, is Not-A-Christmas Person.

But that’s OK. Just so much time, so delegating is smart. 

Leaves time for other more important stuff, right?

A Christmas Person may mumble, but resignedly rolls out the strings of lights down the hall each year, carefully tightening each bulb, and making sure there aren’t lights of the same color next to each other before winding all 57 light strings around the tree. And the lights alone take a day.

A Not-A-Christmas Person plugs in the pre-lit tree. Done!

A Christmas Person gathers little notes all year long to remember what each person really really desires. Something they never dreamed you even knew that they wanted! A Christmas Person quietly notes and makes purchases far in advance.

A Not-A-Christmas Person says, “Hey, Starbuck cards. Everyone loves Starbuck cards! Done.”

Mom and son in front of card display.1950's Christmas Cards in Australia. Oxley Linrary, Queensland /released to PD: exp cr/

Now we must pick find the perfect Christmas card for Aunt Minnie.(1950’s.Australia. Oxley Library, Queensland/PD/

A Not-A-Christmas Person knows exactly where each store’s gift wrapping station is.

Very professional looking. So elegant. Impressive. “So much better than I could do.”

A Christmas Person carefully selects even which wrapping paper suits each person.

Traditional red velvet bow on dark green for the Williamsburg type.

Santa with thick fuzzy yarn ties for the kids. (Add a small Lego with the bow?)

Cute Christmas dogs or cats designs for the pet lover.

Chic silver for the sophisticated trendy ones.

And on each a special gift tag – with a cryptic hint of what’s inside. (Anticipation is best part of Christmas!)

It’s not their fault, the Not-A-Christmas Persons. Probably genetic.

My Dad was all Frosty the Snowman, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and simple country carols – sung really loud.

Always that last hour on Christmas Eve before the stores closed run to find the most ridiculous presents ever. Wind-up pigs playing drums. Closeout candy canes – from Halloween. And an apple and orange in each stocking as a nod to those “exotic fruit” treats given dirt poor farm kids of his generation.

It was all “it’s the thought that counts”. And fun. A month of twinkling eyes, secret plans, and Ho-Ho-Ho’s.

He made a great Santa at the grocery store a couple of times. Did Christmas really well.

children.1910 Christmas shopping. NY TImes archives/ cr/

No crowded malls or parking problems. Much merrier! (1910.NY Times/

My Mom was all budget, underwear is fine for Christmas, and you get one big gift with a couple of (very) smaller ones.

Each kids had exactly the same amount – to the penny – spent on them.

More formal orchestra performances and Handel’s Messiah. (No clapping for religious music.)

She always handed the gifts to me to wrap.

Insisted the tree, the outdoor lights, the wrapping paper – all of it – be packed up and stored away before Dec. 28th.

Must have had a recessive Christmas Person gene.

An environmental vs genetic thing? One of the great mysteries of mankind.

Vintage Christmas Postcard with birds.Nat.Lib.of Norway.Anne-Sophie Ofrim/

Birds of a feather flock together.(Nat.Lib.of Norway/

I do the best I can with those afflicted with sluggish holiday spirit.

Those with the deer-in-the-headlight look in the stores.

Those with Sugar Plum phobia.

Those who tremble at the thought of tinsel

The ones who are secretly relieved they don’t have to do the tree or put up lights allowing them to just sit there and take it all in.

Nudge them gently. Hoping to infect them. There’s always next year.

Year 1, Stage One: Here, you hang the door wreath and stockings.

Year 2, Stage Two: It’s only one box of ornaments. Anywhere you hang them is fine. Ok, just the red ones.

Year 3, A plateau. Don’t want to rush progress. How about another box of ornaments? They’re Santas and candy canes.

Hey, your turn to put the star on the top. Perfectly done!  (And they’re hooked…)

small angel by Christmas tree. Vintage Christmas postcard.unknown artist.Nat.Lib.of Norway.Anne-Sopuie Ofrim/

A Christmas wish: please let someone else do the tree next year. (Nat.Lib.of Norway/

It’s not just about religion. Much more than that. 

There’s so many winter holidays, traditions, and celebrations. So many light ones.

Grew up in a predominately Jewish community. Can sing the Dreydl Song with the best of them.

Always envied the Swedish neighbor’s flowing white robes and crown of candles.

And the kids next door got an extra day of gifts on Three Kings Day.

Wooden Dutch shoes in place of stockings. Father Christmas on pony or goat? Whatever transportation gets the job done.

Add the seven days of messages with Kwanzaa.

Of course, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Las Posadas, and Tamaladas for making Christmas tamales.

Prehistoric cave painting. Cierva de La Cueva del Pendo/Codigowiki/

Sure looks like a prehistoric reindeer. (Cierva de La Cueva del Pendo/Codigowiki/

Celebrations are something very human. Importance unfathomed.

Found in dark caves with sooty handprints and dancing ponies.

In oak groves. In cathedrals. In hearts.

A lingering primal need? An instinct, hope, or dream?

An ancient human recognition of survival and community.

Contentment with life also flickers in there.

Elves.1895 postcard.Kunster/Eier/Nat.Lib.of Norway/

An army of elves on the way? Careful, they don’t look like they take “No” for an answer….(1895.Nat.Lib.of Norway/

Plenty of time to ponder.

Hot chocolate and a cookie or two?

Settle in by the fire? Holiday Inn is on.

Even if lacking the full Christmas Person gene, bet you can’t help wishing all be merry and bright after a warming up a bit.

(Yes the air conditioner is on, why do you ask? You know how it is: one person is always hot and one always cold…)

(Can you please flip that light string over that branch while you’re standing there? And just snug up that one light bulb there.

Oh, it may not be the brightest one on the string, but in concert with the all others it glows and shines brightly.)

Just right, cookie.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Related posts: 

Christmas pining: A matter of difference. (Step lightly when opposites attract? Fresh Pressed, 2012.)

Crushed by the Christmas Views. (Simply too much for him. Bad Santa!!!!)

Santy Claus wonders. (One final trip) (Christmas slips in. Awful is not always bad. 2013)

Vintage Christmas postcard of couple on sled. 1890. Larsen/Nat.Lib.of Norway.Anne-Sophie Ofrim/

More than one way to get that Christmas spirit….and I’m so not above a little assist with that. Eggnog? Mulled wine? Irish coffee? Lone Star? (1890.Larsen /Nat.Lib.Norway /








  1. easyweimaraner / Dec 3 2014 5:12 pm

    Seems I’m not-a-christmas person… I bought my wrapping paper today and noticed at home that I bought paper with green ducks… I thought that are christmas trees …. hope Santa brings me glasses LOL


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 3 2014 5:24 pm

      The paper sounds just ducky to me! If they can sell a giant inflatable yellow duck for Christmas yard decoration, your wrapping paper seems perfect.Red velvet bows – and glitter fixes anything.
      (hmmm, Easy. Wonder if we’ll manage bows on packages this year….Molly found them tasty last year…Paw waves!)
      Thanks for wrapping up a comment to share!


  2. Your Moderate Mama / Dec 3 2014 5:22 pm

    I was raised by a Christmas mother… “try not to rip the beautiful paper!!” (seriously!!!) And a “I don’t care… but I have a opinion” father!

    I fall in the middle… I love to celebrate the magic and fun of Christmas but I weight it against… “Am I going to yell at the children if I attempt XYZ…” yelling does not equal Christmas joy and cheer 😉

    Also the questions I get like, “was Jesus really born in the winter?” “nope” “Why do we celebrate his bday in the winter then?” “Well, a long time ago pagans had a holiday….”

    Oh yes… deep thoughts on theology, history and traditions are a blast to have with a insightful, deep thinking, inquisitive 7 year-old!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 3 2014 5:30 pm

      My frugal mom insisted packages be open carefully and the paper folded neatly for next year. I thought she would die when Christmas was at my brothers and they all ripped, shredded, and tossed into garbage bag. My brother looked a little too smug with that.
      Nothing like having a kids around for the holidays. Love your comment “yelling does not equal Christmas joy and cheer” Perfect line to remember. Thanks for hanging that to decorate this space!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your Moderate Mama / Dec 3 2014 5:58 pm

        Oh my… I didn’t know people saved paper until I married into my husbands family. They save tissue paper like it’s gold but I have to say… the tissue my husband’s aunt has lovingly folded and saved at my children’s bday parties has come in handy!! I don’t think I’ve bought tissue in 7 years!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 3 2014 6:06 pm

          It’s good for rainy day kid projects…eye dropper with food coloring and such….then there’s no way it can be folded up and kept…unless you plan to use it for gift wrap…but don’t tell!


  3. ScienceMeander / Dec 3 2014 6:23 pm

    But doesn’t marriage of a Christmas person to not-a-Christmas person mean that the Christmas people can make Christmas however they want it to be and the not-a-Christmas people are happy to let them?

    Liked by 2 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 3 2014 9:59 pm

      Compromise is critical to keep the peace in most situations.
      Obviously more long term research is needed – there’s bound to be grant money available for that. And ethical DNA issues can be raised. Is it proper to attempt to jumpstart a recessive Christmas gene? Is that like prodding a sluggish thyroid or more like forcing a person born hearing impaired to have a Cochlear implant? Oy Vey! A can of worms, I tell you. Research always opening up a can of worms!
      Thanks for lighting up the comment tree with a winter celebration hypothesis!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul / Dec 3 2014 7:16 pm

    Fun holiday post Phil. Thanks


  5. katecrimmins / Dec 3 2014 8:23 pm

    I am the not-a-Christmas person in the family. Every year I try to talk my husband out of a tree or at least to get a little one we can decorate once and store like that. Maybe this year.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 3 2014 10:08 pm

      Christmas is great, but I’m getting tired (everyone else loves the final product, but too busy to participate…). We have the giant artificial tree that takes forever to complete which was Ok for years..I thought we were home free with a smaller already lit tree, but now the birds returning to the nest crave the big traditional family one with the extensive ornament collection.
      I’m thinking ski lodge room somewhere….. (and dream of having a fully decorated tree on wheels that rolls in and out of a special closet for storage) Thanks for draping some comment tinsel around here


      • katecrimmins / Dec 4 2014 12:15 am

        I’ll meet you at the ski lodge with hot chocolate (or possibly something stronger) in hand!


  6. jannatwrites / Dec 3 2014 9:51 pm

    Well, I consider myself a Christmas person, but we do have a pre-lit tree. I don’t do well with lights, and it seems my husband is not a Christmas person 🙂 We generally do gift cards for out-of-town people because, the crowds at the post office are too much. (Lazy, I know!)


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 3 2014 10:17 pm

      At some point practicality has to rule. Anything to slow holiday frustration or exhaustion is recommended. If it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth doing these days!
      We have a medium size pre-lit tree, but the last time the crowd insisted on the big one, I quietly wrapped only half the normal light strings. No one noticed at all.
      Thanks for hanging the perfect comment ornament


  7. Littlesundog / Dec 4 2014 12:52 am

    FD and I neither one are Christmas people. Both scarred by the “religious” experience when we were kids I guess. Anyway, we might attend a dinner and get together with family or friends for the holiday, but neither of our families does gift giving anymore. I gave my tree and ornaments away years ago at a garage sale. A family who had just moved here was delighted to have it… and I was delighted not to have to put it up anymore! Oh, and you delighted my senses when you described construction paper – the smell the faded papers, various colors… that was perfect. It took me WAY back! Thanks for the memories! 🙂


  8. shoreacres / Dec 4 2014 2:11 am

    I’m all Christmas, all the time — but weird me, I’m pretty fond of Advent, too. While the not-Christmas sorts are sighing with relief and shoving the tree in the closet on December 26 (if they can wait that long) I’m just getting rolling, until Epiphany. But every year, it sneaks up on me. If I’m going to get any Christmas posts up, I’d better get cracking. Like, now. I have one I’ve wanted to do for three years, but I start thinking too late. Oh, well. I do believe I’ll dig out the ornaments and tree this weekend, though. And maybe it’s time to crank up my Pandora Christmas channel.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. PiedType / Dec 4 2014 5:50 am

    I was the most Christmas-y person in the family for decades, but the spirit gradually faded until I’m now down to one artificial wreath that I move from the garage to the front door and back again. I can always go to my son’s house and share with the grandkids.

    My mom saved the wrapping paper, too. Carefully peeled the tape off, or cut it if necessary, and folded and stored the paper. A holdover from the lean days of the Depression and WWII?

    Liked by 1 person

    • ScienceMeander / Dec 11 2014 2:53 am

      One year I unwrapped a gift with my name written on it lightly with pencil but the gift was not something I wanted. Turned out the penciled in name was for a gift from a previous year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2014 4:58 pm

        Sounds like you got a gift of laughter with that one. (Silly elves into the eggnog too early!) Thanks for wrapping up a comment for this Christmas tree


  10. EllaDee / Dec 5 2014 12:44 am

    You’ve explained a great deal I’ve been wondering about. The year before last the G.O. was conveniently diverted to a task for the neighbours so I both put up and packed away our Christmas tree solo. Very unfestive experience. I vowed never again, and last year time got away from us so no tree and a modest exchange of pre-selected gifts over breakfast coffee. Even less festive experience. I vowed never again. This year was a joint effort. Our small old fragile tree, small fragile ornaments, small (quite warm) living room and not so small G.O. are not a combination for the faint-hearted. However there were no casualties but the G.O. asked did we not have a bag or cupboard in which we could stow the assembled creation in perpetuity. When I responded no, it would need to come down after Christmas he replied he was sure he would be busy given a day’s notice…
    I love pre-loved paper and ribbon and have boxes and drawers of it. This year I upcycled brown office paper! Bought stuff anyone can do 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. aFrankAngle / Dec 5 2014 1:44 am

    I would say my parents were not-so-Christmas types. Partly because of the frugal upbringing during the recession … partly because of their work hours … nonetheless, I’ve come to believe that Christmas has a certain spirit … something that is found deep within a person … after all, outwardly I’m not a Christmas person … but inwardly I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jay E. / Dec 5 2014 12:24 pm

    Glad I’m not the only one who’s family saved wrapping and tissue paper. It was a nightmare trying to save it so Mom wouldn’t get angry on Christmas! You’d think it was a mortal sin to tear the paper . . .

    Anyway, I suppose I’m somewhere in-between. I love the decorations and the carols and everything that goes with the holiday, but absolutely despise actually setting up, hanging, or mailing anything. The one thing I do enjoy is the Christmas cards: I’m willing to spend the money on high-quality cards and each recipient gets a personal message in calligraphy! It’s the little things, right?

    My wife – on the other hand – is very much a Christmas Person. Oh yes.


  13. marthaschaefer / Dec 5 2014 1:23 pm

    Mixed genes here…hate inflatables but too lazy to put up the tree for just me … carols started playing on an endless loop the day after Thanksgiving …


  14. csroth3 / Dec 9 2014 9:29 pm

    Irish coffee would be nice in this icy drizzle of a day. I’m a spirit of love Christmas person but not a commercial x-mas person. I hate the mall even in the summer. I’m the only woman in the world who doesn’t like to shop. Parties are fun as well as family get- togethers. I’ve always let the kids lead the decoration team, even now as adults, they bought the tree yesterday. I’m not much of a traditionalist but my kids are so I go along with them. Someday though, I’m going to recline on a beach for Christmas and eat sushi.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2014 2:08 pm

      Malls are manic – almost anti-Christmas. Nice the kids are helping – makes it so much easier. I’m the least swamped with work, so….may get the tree up today/tonight
      I’ll meet you on the beach! (Which reminds me I saw the bestest inflatable yard decoration ever last night: Santa in beach wear under a palm tree with a penguin dress in a hula skirt. Yep. a warm Christmas attitude!)
      Hope you get that Irish coffee and a few jingle bells to go along. Thanks for caroling along

      Liked by 1 person

  15. jmmcdowell / Dec 10 2014 1:07 pm

    When I was younger, it was easy to be a Christmas person. But as I got older, and the work load always seemed to skyrocket in December, I slipped into being a non-Christmas person. I still enjoy a beautiful (and understated) decorative setting, but putting one together has fallen in importance on the “to do” lists. Sigh.

    Just a note of fun, though—on that picture of the exquisitely dressed and coiffed Lucy and her two children—check out the bottom of the socks on those little feet. 😉 I doubt that was a desired part of the look!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2014 1:50 pm

      Sockies untold story! How funny. Glad you pointed that out. Those were the child actors that played Little RIcky sometimes. That picture was just so period piece.
      I always wanted the beautiful whole house Christmas decorations like in the magazines and on TV as a child – but that wasn’t going to happen as mom worked (as did my grandmothers) and we were lucky to get a tree up. Forget Christmas baking.
      I hope to get my (pre-lighted medium-size) tree out of the box today. Abbreviations and short cuts as needed. I do have a mostly decorated table top tree that is pulled out of a pillow case in a box…and not afraid to use it.
      The workplace changed December. Not only end of year deadlines, budgets and reorganizations to meet next year’s budget. People were cut, job responsibilities for those positions were piled on already over loaded workers. You didn’t know whether it was worse to be laid off or kept in a job. People were afraid to complain and technology means the office is always at your elbow and work waiting. “Lucy”‘s time offered much more down time and perhaps joy even without all the material things and technology devices?
      (working on a post about blogging guilt and my first line defense solution…It’s Christmas – there must be smiles and in person fun as well as stats, right?)
      Thanks for taking in the picture show!


      • jmmcdowell / Dec 10 2014 11:26 pm

        Those restructurings at work are stressful at the best of times. And December is the worst month for that to happen. Our company was bought out in December 2012, and I felt so bad for the people who were given 30–90-day notices. Two years later, I still feel a bit lost at sea at times with the new structure and ways of doing things. I hope things will smooth out for you and your colleagues before too long.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2014 11:40 pm

          After surfing the unpredictable waves 3 different Decembers, and over qualified for so many jobs (and hating commuting over an hour one way each day) decided it was best to go back being self employed/working with my husband’s small company. Not my field or much fun, but flexible, work from home, and time for blogging. Working with big companies has really changed – so much company politics, choices made by budget/costs only, and so little respect of/loyalty to good employees. Hang in there – maybe it will smooth out there or a better opportunity will appear.Thanks for the encouragement


  16. kathryningrid / Dec 17 2014 8:45 pm

    So much food for thought. Must wash it down with a good eggnog or glögg or something else of that, ahem!, High order. I’m lazy about holiday celebrating as I am about all things, but I love the warmth and childlike graces of celebrating at any excuse. So I guess I’m both of these characters wrapped up in one untidy package. Born on La Guadalupana’s day, but of Norsk roots; raised on Protestant candlelit midnight services, but happy to rejoice in the sparkle of Diwali or Eid, and all that.
    Happy holidays of every kind to you and yours, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 17 2014 11:06 pm

      Mutts are always the best! (Mutts – the local term for mixed up heritages…most of us here are. )
      So much to celebrate in December – would be a shame to miss any of them. Merry merry onward

      Liked by 1 person

      • kathryningrid / Dec 18 2014 1:53 am

        Some days I’m a mutt, sometimes just a mongrel, but never especially mangy. And always Merry! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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