Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013 - A Fireside Chat

Sandee and I have never sent Christmas cards, which is on one side not strange at all and on the other side actually amazing. And I mean that literally. I have just enough social skills to get by in this world. Ask my family and they will gladly attest to the fact that I never send them any signs of life to confirm my continued existence on this planet, no birthday wishes or congratulary contributions from my desk when anything great or wonderful happens in my growing immediate family. A van Strien family tree, where the older branches are breaking off, such as the passing of our parents, and where the family tree limbs just below the top have more and more issues, most often medical, but a tree with new lower limbs growing in a teeming way, as new offspring grace this world or new guys are joining the list (the van Strien family generates mostly female buds on the venerated family tree in need of fertilization). But does this, the now oldest, curmudgeon of them all send any of them missives of sorrow, joy or wonder? The true answer is rarely, and if so, electronically.

Sandee however the true American southern belle in this relationship, the Hallmark queen with point collecting membership of that establishment, does not either send Christmas cards. Why oh why? If anybody has the social graces, she has the ability to shore up my curmudgeon side and give me, if not respectability, at least a level of social standing I might never have reached without her, but maybe I could be like many other husbands I know: an "ok type", the type of which other women would say, "I don't know what she sees in him, but he seems to make her happy" type. But NO not even that, because she doesn't send cards either.

But enough of this litany of obvious false self disgust. Self absorbed or otherwise labeled, we are today one day away from the big day when family celebrates around a tree with sweets and aromas of hot drinks wafting through the hallway and the weather outside after declining in the last days from high seventies (for you Europeans find a conversion table, or let me give you a clue: think warm, if not hot) into the sixties, and the twinkling tree near the window competes with a bright sun, however sonos brings seasonal music in English or Dutch as our mood changes. This centuries technology could even bring Japanese music straight from Osaka, but those genes are not around in this living room, so The Netherlands is as far as the sound waves have to travel.

The dwindling number of Christmas cards that grace our mailbox still represent a respectable stack each year, which we dutifully arrange on the counter around the "not yet taken care of miscellaneous bowl" - the only bowl in the whole house I am allowed to dump things in that cannot be left anywhere in the house without being chastised as being messy. This bowl I inherited from OB, who also suffered under Sandee's strict rules, that results in a tidy home with nothing allowed out of place. This bowl is the only place that is not inspected by the lady of the house and the seasonal cards surround it, representing an outgrowth of the "untidy home area". It must be said as an aside, that when company comes the bowl disappears. I advise future visitors to inquire about its location.

Percentage wise the number of supplier cards are growing yearly for the obvious reason that senders gradually remove us from their list since they feel unloved by lack of receiving a card from us. A small very loyal group of senders remain gracing our mailbox for reasons beyond me, although I hasten to add that I specifically appreciate their effort as it allows me, during one small window of the year, to extend my untidy area. And it should, but apparently doesn't, shame Sandee into visiting the nearest Hallmark store.

As you, the reader starts wondering, when the fireside chat will start, let me state that this self serving communication is the result of a feeling that has been slowly growing in the last weeks, staring at the tree and its twinkles, while opening cards that the mailman brought us, while reading emails that contain the modern way of spreading the best wishes, watching sappy Christmas themed movies at Netflix on our tv, seeing snow on the daily news show all around us, be it predominantly in the form of winter disasters, car pile ups and plane de-icing, having telephonic "merry Christmas" being wished by complete strangers.

So hereby to all the people we do know and cherish, Sandee and I for the first time in eons wish you all a blessed and also merry Christmas as well as a toddy at New Year's Eve and a best 2014.