Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

For the past few years, I have been getting up before everyone on Christmas morning.  Perhaps, I cannot sleep.  Maybe I have too much on my mind.  Probably, it is simply the time I am used to waking up.  Whatever the reason, I have come to like this time of the morning on this day.  You know “not a creature was stirring” and all that.

But it is absolutely true, this is one of the quietest times to be awake.   Until 2007, we were travelling from Detroit and then Connecticut to my in-laws in Lake Forest, IL where we now live.  For most of those years, my children dictated the time we woke on Christmas morning.  When they were younger, it was pretty early as they were anxious to see what Santa Claus had brought them.   When they were in high school and college and more prone to sleeping in, I would wake up before them but I just stayed in bed.  I was not in my own house and my in-laws did not have WiFi.

In 2007, I woke up in my own home on Christmas morning for the first time in many years.  I woke up early, a good two hours before anyone else would be stirring.  I made myself a cup of coffee and sat and reflected.  As the coffee dissipated the cobwebs, I began thinking of my transition, at that time, from Colgate to Sanford, from Wilton, CT to Lake Forest, IL.  I began thinking of the people I worked with and was working with at that time.   I had been in the habit of sending out a Christmas message to the people I worked with, peers and subordinates for the most part, but that year in 2007, I composed and emailed a short message to my team at Sanford and then to the old team at Colgate.

It felt good to do that.  It was like a modern cyber version of making the rounds, knocking on the doors of friends, family, and colleagues to wish them a Merry Christmas and share in some Christmas cheer and spirit both the kind that emanates from the heart and the kind you drink from a glass.  I have done it since to some degree.

This year, I am writing a longer piece by design.  I write every day as part of my regimen.  Rather than write a short greeting card message, I am opting to dedicate my daily writing to what is a really long Christmas Card.  This is more the mode as so many people are sending out e-cards, e-mails, and e-such in lieu of traditional cards.

I will not email the message but rather the link to my message on my blog.  I may even tweet it.  Oh, I am quite the modern fellow.

On Christmas Eve, we had our traditional gathering.  It used to be at my in-laws but since moving to Illinois it has been at our home.   The core cast on Christmas Eve has stayed the same, my wife’s immediate family and her cousins on her father’s side and their families.  This year, we invited close friends and their guests.  At the peak of the evening, we had 32 people in our house which was full of light, food, and cheer.

At one point in the evening, my cell phone rang.  It was my good friend Andres from Uruguay calling to convey his Christmas wishes.  It was very nice to talk to him a few moments.  I am still of a generation where an international call is a huge deal.  I am not sure why that is because with internet phone services such as Skype, it is not really anything special.  Yet, getting a call from half-way around the world is still cool.

Maybe I am getting too old, but I was exhausted at the end of the evening.  I guess overeating can do that.  Perhaps it was due to shoveling the snow to keep the walk as clean as possible for the guests who began arriving a half hour after I finished.  It certainly was not due to the magnificent décor or the unbelievable offering of delicacies.  I was responsible for none that truly exhausting work.  That credit and honor goes to Judy who is actually energized by such efforts and is most talented in every aspect of such.

Everyone reported that the roads were treacherous.  But in the Northern Hemisphere, you cannot get anymore Currier & Ives than a light, steady, and accumulating snowfall on Christmas Eve unless we had abandoned cars for sleighs.  It was a true White Christmas Eve.

Our son, Aram, his wife Anoush and her father Yervant were able to join us.  It is great having them here.  Our daughter Armené and her husband Michael are in Los Angeles spending the holiday with his family.  The rest of my immediate family stayed in Detroit.  We talked to them over the phone.  Everyone knew that Armené would have loved to have been with us.  She is the most traditional in that Currier & Ives, White Christmas, sense.  She is of the strong belief that it is supposed to be cold and snowing on Christmas.  It is best when there is a fresh blanket of the white stuff covering the twinkling light decorations on every house.

It is not yet 7 am as I write this.  It is quiet and there is just a hint of dawn as I look out the window.  The snow is still there, of course, but the twinkling lights were dimmed hours ago.   It is at this very hour that I think of all our friends and family.  I think mostly of those of you that I will not see today or in the next week.  The contrast of these memorable reflections in my warm home contrasted to the cold temperatures outside contribute to just how much I have come to value this hour of this holiday.

I am delighted to reach out this very quiet moment to friends and family all over the United States and all over the world and convey our warm Christmas wishes to you and yours.  Even moreso, I hope that 2011 is a year of health, happiness, and prosperity for you and yours.


  1. Mark, very nice words. I liked your writing, thanks for sharing these. I have also received a call from Andres, it was very nice, it is nice to keep in touch and exchange wishes and few words.
    The best for you and yours for 2011 !!!!

  2. It is a special time. It was made more special this year by our 20 month old granddaughter. Christmas really is for kids and all the adults really enjoyed her enjoying Christmas.

    Alan K