Christmas morning

December is a month where I and my staff have little time for our families. We are busy around the clock working our craft to create gifts for others. Many people don’t understand how labor intensive this work really is. And how dependent it is on equipment that, regardless of how well taken care of, is as old or older than the stuff they play. It is a workplace in constant motion, punctuated with crises large and small- a computer crashes, a machine jams up, a belt wears out. And then there are the folks, nice though they may be, who come in at the last minute with orders, big and small, pleading for something to put under the tree. And sometimes thinking it is as easy as pushing a button.

We do our best to make everyone happy, but at 4pm, Christmas Eve, everything goes silent. All the computers get turned off. The buzz and hum of different pieces of equipment stop, and for better or worse, the rush is over. Time has run its course. We get to go to our families.

I am always grateful for my hard working employees ,who succeeded in finishing every order that needed to be done by Christmas. The glitches this year were few, and none major. Our customers were happy, and many a story was shared over our front counter, and many hand shakes and well wishes exchanged.

In my family, we gather and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. I am ever and always grateful that my wife takes charge of this event and makes it full of tradition and surprises. Ages range from my 95 year old Aunt Lucille to my 9 month old granddaughter Bea. Its a time to catch up on a year’s worth of life events, future plans, and memories of ties and loved ones past.

Sometimes, its difficult for me to so quickly switch gears and move from the business to the family mode. In the back of my mind there is always a checklist running— did I get this done, did I turn that off, did I pay this bill? But after a while, the chatter of surrounding conversations and little baby happily drooling on my nose, takes my mind away from business and onto the more important things in life. Which is, of course, what Familyography is all about.

I wake up early on Christmas morning, notwithstanding the festivities of the Eve, because I am too used to rising early. But it is worth it. The winter chill is in the air. Unwrapped gifts sit in piles, homemade cookies are still in the kitchen, and over a warm cup of tea, made just like my grandmother would, I get to survey the glorious remains of our gathering in solitary quietude. I am grateful.

Thanks to all of our customers, and I hope that your celebrations were joyful and as splendid as mine.

Merry Christmas, Happy holidays. Pray for peace. Have empathy for those less fortunate, who face undeserved challenges, who struggle to survive.

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Daniel Smith