Call Me Scrooge

One of the great things about getting older is the ability to craft your own traditions to suit your pleasures and preferences. I find I’ve moved inexorably from ho ho ho to no no no:

No Shopping. As I mentioned in last week’s blog on gift-giving ideas, our family is eminently lucky in that we have everything we need, and sometimes more than one of them. The idea of going to the mall to find stuff that somebody doesn’t need seems like a double burden – on me for shopping and on them for finding a place for it. As aging boomers know, we’re approaching the time when we’re going to have to divest stuff, not collect more.

No Travel. I did not marry Monica solely because she was a native Californian, but wow, has that paid off. With both of our families no more than 90 minutes’ travel north or south, we can spend the holidays with both mine (for brunch) and hers (for dinner). We’re in, we’re out, we’re on our way, and back home in our own bed Christmas night for TiVo-recorded football.

No Dead Trees. I find it highly ironic that once we had a station wagon that could haul Christmas trees, we stopped buying Christmas trees. It was a December tradition to put the top down on the convertible, brave the elements, and throw an evergreen in the back seat. A few years ago, we decided to be more ecological, and now have a faux tree (that looks mighty real) stored in its own handy bag in the garage. We make it a point to buy an ornament wherever we travel, so decorating the tree becomes a walk down memory lane through our favorite destinations.  

No Deviation From The Menu. I’m going to admit it – I love cooking holiday meals. I’m hopelessly boring, whipping up the same turkey, stuffing, gravy, yams, and homemade cranberry sauce every year. I know it’s hours of work for less than an hour of eating (not counting leftovers), but it makes me feel as warm and nurturing as a childless person can.

No New Movies. Monica and I have two holiday movie traditions. At Thanksgiving, we watch the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street. Monica does a mean impersonation of a martini-sloshed Mrs. Shellhammer. At Christmas, we watch It’s A Wonderful Life. I always flinch when Mr. Gower slaps young George, and I always cry when adult George finds Zuzu’s petals in his pocket. I can’t help it.

All told, these are my holiday traditions. If I have an inspiration for this, believe it or not, it’s Ebenezer Scrooge (the photo is from the 1951 British version, which I think is the best of them). I don’t know why calling someone a Scrooge is an insult. It should be a compliment. At the end of the book, he’s been transformed from a miser into a kind soul. Go ahead and call me a Scrooge. As Dickens wrote, “It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well.”


About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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4 Responses to Call Me Scrooge

  1. Catrien says:

    Are there “rental trees” in your area? When I get a tree it’s always a rental. You actually buy the tree, but if you bring it back in good condition you get about half the purchase price back. The tree is then put back into the ground until next year. I think it’s great: a real tree, with the real tree smell, but not dead.
    Of course, a certain number of the rental trees won’t survive, but from what I gather most of them do.

    • How interesting — I have never heard of “rental trees,” though with the number of tree farms in the nearby mountains and California’s predilection for recycling, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re there.

      However, I did not mention one of the great features of our particular faux tree — the lights are already strung, and we never have to worry about them.

  2. SR Newman says:

    Not to sound like a fortune printed on a tea-bag tag, but eventually we all must make our own Christmas. And congratulations for having made a lovely, fresh one!

  3. Judit Sarossy says:

    I like your writings. I read them all. When it is about football it is very foreign territory to me. I still could not figure out what the players are doing during a game. One of my friend tried to explain it to me but I still don’t get it. 🙂

    Sounds like you have your yearly routine. I am not a big fan of shopping either. I think it is boring and I am almost certain no matter how hard I try probably it rarely happened that others were happy with my gifts. I really don’t need anything. To me a gift is a nice sentence, a flower (not fake), or spending time with someone I like. I don’t think stuff makes anyone happy.

    I use to buy Xmas trees with roots. After Xmas I planted them in the backyard. Well they grew big, and unfortunately later I had to kill few of them. So the “rent a tree” sounds great to me. But I cannot have fake tree, I need the smell of Xmas.
    I never saw the movie titled “It’s a Wonderful Life” but you made me curious.

    In Europe turkey is not part of the Xmas menu. Although it is yummy. My stomach get use to the Hungarian Xmas dinner which starts with casino eggs (one of my favorites), then a very hot and spicy fish-soup which is called fisherman’s soup. After that breaded fish with tartar souse, potato salad (different than the American one), then a cake or chestnut puree with whipped cream.

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