The umbrella term is intended to cover the two holidays and all their sub-units. Obviously the Merry belongs to Christmas and the holiday points up the sacred nature of Hanukkah.
But let me start out by saying it is five o’clock on Christmas morning and I am rolling out of bed to respond to what for me is the ancient call to open the presents. There was my own eager self having done everything, but unwrapping presents before hand. By high school I had perfected a sure method for finding out whether Mother had given me a cashmere sweater. With luck it would have been a box from Harold’s in Minneapolis and I would be able to insert my finger in under the cover and scratch up the tissue paper following which, if all went well. I would be able to feel the fabric of the garment wrapped in it. It’s a wonder I was so hopelessly curious, because it was always cashmere and I still needed to know the color.
And here I am, seventy-nine years later watching Fiona do a few of her presents practically in the middle of the night. She tosses the wrappings to the floor careless of any kind of mess she might make. How she loves clothes. How they feed her picture of herself . She puts on all her new finery even though each garment covers up an earlier one, and various ribbons hang from her head and neck in a great display of color and sparkle.
The star of my take is an electric wine opener. This as so many presents do, represent a family joke making fun of my Luddite tendencies and my particular inability to manage a corkscrew. Jim likes to pretend that he resents being asked to do that job, and has even gone so far as to suggest that I don’t have even the most basic stuff of a committed craftswoman. So here I sit now with my new wine opener on my lap and a booklet several pages long about how to work it. First page in large type shouts out to follow all instructions before using. There is a list of 19 instructions and I will try to read them all right now. Maybe not right now. Maybe will try it over at Priscilla’s tonight. My status as an older and reasonably serious and responsible American has been validated by my gift of a double thermometer–one for outside and one for in. This confers on the recipient the duty to remind family members and guests of any special clothing or equipment necessary for both comfort and safety in and out, need for raising or lowering the thermostat, and , I think, a warning against ever asking any other resident of the house what the temperature is. You are supposed to know. But please read on.
The best will be last. A gift from David. Excuse me, but it is hard for me to say. It is a new chicken for my flock, technically a four-footed rooster with a frightening demeanor. But wait. Those claws are not meant for scratching. It is a mild, meek rooster and that is why I call it a chicken. A second, smaller chicken came by way of Betsy on an ornament shaped like golden pear. Little by little the collection is growing. I always knew I wanted a collection of something. Serious Americans need collections as part of the American dream.
And a Happy New Year