Friday, December 29, 2006


We returned last night from a six-day trip to Washington, where we celebrated Christmas at Andrew and Marcie’s house and also got to meet our lovely new grandson.

Not surprisingly, given the mix of the extended family that gathered, our conversation turned at times to the subject of traditions. “Because of our traditions”, as Tevye assured the good folks of Anatevka, “every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” Tevye had a hard time explaining how some traditions got started: I would be hard pressed to explain why we now get together on New Year’s Eve with Kate’s family for games and Chinese food. A former neighbor sent a Christmas card from Wisconsin, noting that with the death of her husband and the marriage of her son, Christmas traditions in her family were changing. “New traditions”, she wrote, “what fun”. No oxymoron there, I think. Pragmatism is a driving force and we yield gracefully.

It appears, however, that a new American tradition has crept up on me. The Detroit Free Press ran an Associated Press article before Christmas detailing how families are renting self-storage units to hide Christmas gifts from prying eyes. A listing on asked “Wanna keep the Christmas gifts away from those sneaky little ones?" It offers to “hide the toys from the kids. Hide the boat from your husband.” The story starts out:

NASHVILLE, Tenn— Missy Philips knew she had a big problem when her boyfriend’s 18-year-old son ransacked their house looking for the stash of unwrapped Christmas presents.

To keep the nosy teenager from finding the stereo, video games and hunting bow she and her boyfriend bought him, Philips had to go out of the house —and into a self-storage unit—to hide the gifts until Christmas Eve.

It seems to me that Missy Philips of Nashville, Tenn. has a bigger problem than where to stash Junior’s iPod. Or hunting bow. They are giving this kid a hunting bow?

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