Feasting, festing and Christmas cheer

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer December 24, 2013 10:39 am

Well, it’s finally here. The shopping is done, the mad wrapping will soon be accomplished and you all will trade the busyness of the last few weeks for a cup of wassail and perhaps a Christmas Eve party or a church service.

As a kid I poured over the Sears catalog for months before Christmas – making my list and crafting my letter to Santa Claus. I don’t remember how well Santa matched my list, but the planning and wishing was a big part of the fun and anticipation.

Once I was old enough to have enough allowance money saved up to buy gifts, a new joy ensued. I would spend hours at the Import Plaza at Eugene’s Valley River shopping mall, carefully adding up the treasures I’d collected and counting out my money to see if I could make it balance. The Christmas before I went to college I splurged on the whole family, reconciling to myself I was about to enter several years of abject poverty. Handwritten poems and framed photographs would have to do for a while.

Over the years Christmas became more and more of a time for feasting and festing and celebrating the darkest, coldest time of the year. As a college kid I once stayed up til the wee hours of the morning at an Irish Christmas Eve party. I wasn’t eager to awake when my brother came to shake me from my winter’s slumber TO OPEN
PRESENTS.

Another year, when we were both adults, we didn’t open our presents until Dec. 28 due to some logistical challenges, much to my brother’s dismay.

Last year my favorite present was a timely phone call as I was almost out of cellphone service near Cabbage Hill. I pulled over to get the road report before I continued the drive to
my parents’ house in Portland.

This year the recovery of a friend from surgery is as good of present as I could ask for, as is my parents’ safe arrival Monday as they missed the snow and rain and ice of I-84.

My favorite family member, the 7-year-old nephew, presents under the tree and cookies left for Santa are still penultimate to Christmas cheer. My brother called last weekend. The nephew and his cousin were making robots out of the boxes in which their Christmas presents arrived. My father has always believed that the box makes the better present.

Thursday the new clothes will be put away, the toys strewn about the children’s rooms, and the refrigerator full of leftovers, great for snacking during the plethora of football games to come. The gift of friends and family will remain in our hearts long after the tree is on the burn pile and the ornaments tucked back up in the attic.

Merry Christmas.