The Ghosts Of Christmas Past


Christmas has come and gone here in the ‘ole Fodder Family boarding house. The home place was filled with presents and people, making it difficult to imagine that not so very long ago we celebrated with only six members in our immediate family (In order of age: Grandpa, Dad, Mom, Me, Andrea and Chelsey). This year our ranks ballooned to ten (Grandpa, Dad, Mom, my wife Gwyn, Me, Andrea’s husband Jacob, Andrea, Chelsey, our nephew Garrett, and our son Clark). 

Despite the blessing, in the weeks preceding Christmas, I found myself more disposed to reside on Mt. Crumpit than Whoville. For those who know me, this is an odd departure from the natural state of things. I wouldn’t fancy myself a Buddy the Elf. But insofar as elves have counterparts in their human cousins, well, I’m at least a George Bailey after his brush with Clarence the Angel. 

I think what changed for me this year, aside from the obvious pitfalls of relocating to a new state and welcoming a newborn into the world, was the added pressure I felt to make Christmas as idyllic for Baby Clark as I remembered it being as a child. I realize now how irrational this was. Even if all were calm and bright, Clark wouldn’t have remembered it anyway. He snoozed soundly through most of our gift giving.

Still, as a new father, I thought a lot about what I needed to do to make Clark’s Christmas extra special. From balancing our finances, to selecting the perfect Christmas music (Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé), to purchasing the appropriate “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament (Baby Block ornament), I tried and failed to plan every detail of the holiday. And when plans went awry, as they inevitably do with my family, my nerves quickly followed suit. 

I think my efforts to micromanage Christmas stemmed from an idealized memory of Christmases past – a strange specter of all of the best Christmases lumped into one. The result was that I tried to impose a litany of unrealistic expectations on my son and everyone else. See below:

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As the unfortunate photo above shows, no self-respecting dog should ever have to wear a Santa hat. And no one should have Christmas dictated to them. 

In retrospect, my shenanigans aside, we had a grand Christmas.

Our family was together. We are all in good health. We celebrated the Lord’s birth with our perfect baby boy and my rambunctious, smiling nephew. Even materially, I can’t complain about my new Keurig Coffee Maker

Next year, I will aim to put the Ghosts of Christmas Past to rest. 

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