By Joe Rector

Merry Christmas!

I hope yours will be a fabulous one. As far as I’m concerned, any Christmas spent with loved ones is good.

Maybe the gifts aren’t just right, or maybe “the little lights are twinkling,” but the traditions that we all follow each year give us plenty of reasons to be happy and smile, at least for one day.

A couple of days before the big day, Amy and I will celebrate our 45th anniversary. Yes, I wonder as well how or why she’s put up with me all these years. Then, we’ll make plans for traveling to family for Christmas day.

Our holiday will be a bit different. We purchased new flooring for the house, and because of shipping problems, the stuff won’t arrive until a few days before Christmas.

All the furniture and those boxes and items that are stowed under beds or closet floors must be moved. I’ve completed the second part of the chore, but for the life of me, I don’t know where to move things like couches, dressers, or beds.

Because of the hubbub, we aren’t putting up a Christmas tree. That’s an automatic bummer, but worse would be breaking all our special ornaments when we move the tree from one spot to another.

Amy also decided not to set out all the other Christmas decorations.

I miss them as much as the tree because the festive air they bring is absent.

Finding the right gifts isn’t as easy as it used to be. In the early days of our marriage, I came up with some truly creative ones. One was an old cedar chest that I refinished. Another was a new rocking chair that I stained and sealed before Lacey’s arrival the following April.

On some Christmases I even dared to pick out clothing items, but I was also smart enough to keep the receipts. Yep, most of the things were exchanged, but that was okay.

I’m in charge of finding things to go in stockings. It’s a challenge to find a few new things each year, but the traditional items still appear.

Everyone receives a pair of fingernail clippers each year. I’ve also given tire gauges and dental floss. One of the most popular items was de-icer for windshields. The kids parked outside and appreciated not having to use a scraper to remove frost and ice in the mornings.

I’ve already watched “Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph.” I’m looking forward to “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

When the whole family gets together, we’ll sit down one evening for a viewing of the uncut version of “Christmas Vacation.” Because we all know most of the dialogue, we’ll say things to each other like “Can’t see the lines, can you, Russ” or “Lot of sap,” and we’ll laugh as if it were the first time we’ve heard those words.

We’ll all eat too much and need naps on Christmas afternoon. Then, we’ll gather one more time to eat too much again so that our misery drives us to bed early. A couple of days later, Amy and I will pack up our stuff and Sadie, our dog, and make the trip back home. With a little luck, the floor will be finished by then. If not, our New Year celebration might be a bit cockeyed as well.