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'Tis the Season

As the Jones family discovered, it's safest to eat Ma Jones' holiday dinner with your eyes closed...

Last night I wrote holiday cards and updated my Internet card list.

Two nights before that, I wrapped presents and lined up mailers.

I plan to hold a trim the tree party on Dec. 11, take a week of vacation before Dec. 25 and, with my darling spouse, cook a big family and friends dinner that will take three days to digest.

And what makes any of this newsworthy? I can't remember the last time my family and I enjoyed a "normal" Christmas. Believe me I tried.

For the purposes of this discussion, we will set aside the usual stuff -- puppies (and full-grown dogs) that water the artificial tree, flatware-filching relatives and Mom's infamous imploding turkey. Even so, I need to go back to the early 1990s to find a holiday season not shadowed by professional demands, family illness or grief.

I don't know quite how to handle it. Should I start creaming the butter for my first batch of cookies in a decade, or find some wood and start knocking?

Trust me, on occasions like this, it pays to be superstitious -- especially when the superstitions actually accomplish something.

My own protective rituals involve putting money in the first Salvation Army kettle I see and contributing to holiday charities whenever I can. I do that even in the bad years. It always makes me feel better, regardless of what else might be happening.

So does watching the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol with my husband and driving around the neighborhood to see the lights. Laughing with friends and family warms the chill evenings. Giving of ourselves lightens more than the seasonal dark.

For the first time in far too many years, I look forward to doing all those things. Even the anticipation feels like a gift.

Obviously, the universe is setting me up for some really major practical joke.

I hope it's a good one -- in every sense of the word. Otherwise, what will I write about next year?

Wishing you joyous holidays and a happy, healthy New Year from all of us at Crescent Blues.

Jean Marie Ward

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