The Chat: Some traditions aren't in the cards

JEN:I think it's finally happened — the year the Koski family doesn't do Christmas cards. It's been a good run…

JOY:Been there, done that. Some years it just doesn't work out.

MISSIE:OMG, I gave that up with the dawn of Facebook. I figured anything worth sharing had already been shared. Plus, I can't stand addressing all those envelopes.

JOY:Even with Facebook, I still love getting and sending out cards, pictures, letters.

MISSIE:I agree on the "getting" part. Though I am surprised people keep us on their card list, considering I haven't sent one in seven years.


JEN:It isn't breaking my heart to forego the family photo and handwritten envelopes this year. But I do feel wistful about not writing our annual Christmas letter. I love going back and reading our old letters: "Christian is 5 years old and likes to…" or "Jay decided to take on…" Without this year's card, we'll forget what happened in 2015!

JOY:You shouldn't feel bad about setting limits. Christmas hype should be fun. When you feel like you have to do something, it can take the fun out.

MISSIE:I felt a huge weight off my shoulders when I let myself off the hook. I just wanted to enjoy the holidays, and writing those Christmas cards was bogging me down. But I bet you a dollar you cave and do one last minute. You won't be able to stand it.

JEN:I bet you're right. Right around Dec. 22, I'll panic, stay up all night addressing envelopes, then complain and cry and probably find some reason to blame Jay.

JOY:Since we're on the subject of holiday guilt trips, I'll admit that mine's the Secret Santa thing. I'm a rotten Secret Santa.

MISSIE:Well, now that you're retired, Joy, you're off the hook!

JOY:It sticks with me. One year, I hadn't signed up for Secret Santa, but someone in my work group thought I needed one — so she took it upon herself to Secret Santa me to the nth degree. She did all sorts of funny, creative stuff, like poems and Photoshopped pictures. I didn't figure out who she was until the end when she revealed the secret.

MISSIE:Too much time on her hands?


JOY:She didn't have time on her hands! She worked full time, and had an ill husband and two kids at home. It affected me deeply. Still does. She is one of the most amazing women I know. Can I say her name?

JEN:Say it? Shout it!

JOY:Kathleen Erickson. I worked with Kathleen in the ER, though she is in a different department now.

MISSIE:What other traditions do we lack in? Let's talk lights. I hate putting them up, but I love looking at them when we're trapped inside at 45 below.

JOY:My husband puts lights outside — using multiple ladders and scaffolding. Do you know that ladders are the primary reason that women live longer than men?


JOY:By "scaffolding," I mean a piece of plywood across two saw horses and a ladder on top of that. You should see the things he rigs up — generally with an icy roof and snow on the ground.

MISSIE:I hope he has a good insurance policy.


JEN:I hope you have photographic proof. Also: You know we're going to get letters now telling us that's not safe.

MISSIE:Well, they'd have a point.

JOY:I could be the one who croaks from a heart attack when he does that. It could happen.

MISSIE:Maybe you should join Neil in whatever mystery place he disappears to when WE are doing lights, Joy. I put ours up with the kids. I make them climb up the tree — but they have to wear safety glasses. Someone's gonna lose an eye.

JEN:I aspire to a Clark Griswold-worthy house — but we haven't come close, yet. Seeing as Jay's the one out in the cold hanging the lights, though, I can't complain.

MISSIE:OK, we've covered Christmas cards, Secret Santas, and lights. What are our other holiday hot buttons?

JEN:I actually kind of rock everything else.

JOY:I love baking and candy-making. We keep the fun going all season.


JEN:That's the secret, isn't it? Do this stuff all year long and then you don't feel like you have to cram everything into one holiday month.

MISSIE:You could even send your Christmas cards in March — for 2016.

JEN:On it.

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