Every Other Year

Dec 7, 2012 | 2 comments

Some agreements are hard to stick to.  Take Christmas arrangements, for instance.  For more than twenty years, we alternate our Christmas celebrations between our place here in Oysterville and my son’s place in L.A.  We’ve stuck to that most years since my dad died in 1991, except for a few years when my mom could no longer travel

The upside to this arrangement (or the downside, depending upon how you look at it) is that on the years that we go south we don’t do much in the way of Christmas spirit around here.  I don’t feel the need to clean and polish from top to bottom.  We don’t get a Christmas tree or decorate.  And we don’t host a Christmas party.

In fact, regarding the party end of things, there has been another agreement in place for at least ten of those twenty-plus years.  Our friend Gordon plans his traditional party on the years we go south; ours are the alternate years.  I’m pretty sure it was Gordon who came up with that idea.  It might have worked out once.

Gordon loves to party even more than I do, and we knew that ‘every other year’ would never work for him.  We both remember clearly back in the eighties when he and Roy decided “no big Christmas party.  We’ll just invite six or eight friends to an intimate holiday dinner instead.”

I don’t remember how many of those little dinner parties they ended up hosting that year.  Gordon tells the story far better than I, but it involves Swedish meatballs and lutefisk over and over again.  The following year they went back to the big party which turned out to be far easier and more fun.

So, we knew full well that Gordon would not be able to stick to that every-other year arrangement that we made.  And probably the only reason we can is that we physically remove ourselves from the premises and turn the household over to the chicken sitter on those alternate years.  But ‘the agreement’ is always a topic for teasing and laughter when the ‘off year’ rolls around.

This year is the ‘no party’ year for us and I have been all serene in the thought that we only need to wrap a few presents and pack up the car when the time comes, and then yesterday…  Out of my mouth came the words, “Would you get a few of the Christmas boxes out of the back-forty for me?  I just want to put up a few touches…”

But there is definitely a line:  no tree, no Christmas cookery, no party.  Not this year.  Oh, and did I say no housecleaning?


  1. Nancy

    Sigh…..recalling the many years in the big house on the hill….tree, cookery, party, decorating the 3,700 sq.ft. dwelling which took a week to complete, a week to disassemble and re-store…these years feel spacious, and I feel serene….

  2. Paul Brent

    We, too, are taking this year off due to us going to Cincinnati to be with our two sons, new daughter-in-law and grand dog. So no big tree. I did get out our red tinsel tree and decorate it with vintage Shine Brite ornaments that I have been collecting at yard sales in Oregon. But there was no collection of over 70 nutcrackers, no big party with Christmas Carols and friends. We have our presents wrapped and our Christmas cards sent and yet there is a strange feeling that we should be doing something else to get ready for Christmas. I know it will pass when we arrive in Ohio and we are situated in our son and Daughter-in-laws Victorian home dining on their new table set with their Christmas china they received as wedding gifts. But still, change is somehow hard to accept. One day we may get into the every other year routine as you have and all will seem normal.


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