By Craig Hastings
So many of you through the years have told me you’ve enjoyed reading about the lumps, bumps, laughter, conversations, and the many other episodes that occurred while I raised my boys from toddlers to the young adults they are today. “Please keep them coming,” you say to me.
Even this December some of you have made small talk with me about what will I write this year. It’s tough for me!!! My boys are 17 and 15 now! I started this writing column here at The Journal 13 years ago. My boys were small and into everything. Their own lives were so intertwined with my own, we were inseparable. There was so much to tell. But what cool stories does a 60-year-old dad have to tell about his 17- and 15-year-old sons? Not very many. Why? Because they have their own lives going on and with their own generation.
This year I didn’t put up a single outdoor Christmas light. The first time in more years I care to recall. I live on a dead end street and my own boys could not care less about the outdoor awe of Christmas bling, so who is there left to inspire? Sadly, this year I think this disconnect has bled over into the interior Christmas décor and included lighting. This year neither of my sons made any comments about my interior Christmas lighting. Not in any rooms of my house, not even the Christmas tree itself. This is the first year I noticed that neither one of them came into the living room just to sit and gaze and say to me “dad remember when….” And of course the answer to my questions targeted at some hint of what they might want for Christmas is always the same; “Cash”.
What’s a parent to do? I have the tree, I have the Nativity scene, I have trains set up, I have misc. Christmas lighting everywhere in the house and….nothing. I’m used to Shannon not paying much attention, but now my boys seemed to have outgrown the whole Christmas allure of bright colors and glowing lights. What am I to do with my own desire to keep family tradition alive? I actually do still enjoy all of the hoopla that surrounds December 25th each year. So what do I do in 2019? Do I throw in the towel and downsize my seven foot tree to some window dressing two or three foot twig? Do I spare my efforts of staging my house for Christmas with my totes full of my lifetime collection of Christmas do dads and bobbles and bling?
Will Shannon and the kids sit back and whisper back and forth things like; “Never mind your dad, just humor him and tell how nice his Christmas decorations are.” and, “Wow, dad’s gone off the rails again thinking any of us care about some S&H Green Stamps train he got when he was 7 years old running in circles around a tree.” or, “Yeah, and a fake tree at that; of course who puts a live tree that’s dying because it was cut down inside their house in the first place?” and finally, “I think dad’s reliving his disco years with all these colored lights he’s strung all over the house.” Then Shannon will lastly tell the boys, “Just smile and nod your head yes every time he looks our direction, it’ll be over soon enough.”
Well this certainly isn’t how I want to be remembered at Christmas after I’m gone! I wanted my boys to brag about how nice their house was decorated for Christmas as they were growing up. Instead I’m afraid I’m going to be remembered as the dad that replayed his disco days through the spirit of Christmas past. Should I have left well enough alone two or three years ago and stopped with the decorating? I think in 2019 I’ll be more selective as to what I do about decorating for Christmas. Maybe I’ll force myself to tone down and see what kind of reactions I get from my boring humbug household members.
I have just one seasonal decorating event left now in my home that my boys still enjoy. Halloween! They still enjoy seeing what I’ve done inside at Halloween. Maybe I’ll sell off most of the Christmas stuff and pick up a few more skeletons and witches. I’ll trade those disco representative red, blue, and green Christmas lights for more spooky orange and black lights. Maybe someone should just tell me I should have outgrown all of this by now. Tell me if I want to see colored lights at Christmas to put my “Saturday Night Fever” movie on my wide screen TV, put on a Santa hat, and watch John Travolta get down on the dance floor wearing his white as snow leisure suit. I’ll bet if I jumped up and started dancing along with John and the gang Shannon and the boys would beg me to stop and get out the Christmas decorations!!!!