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Holten: Two-in-one Christmas

Guess what? By the time you read this I’ll have celebrated my second Christmas Day this year.

That’s right. There’s no use celebrating one a year when you can squeeze in two or three because, thanks to the way society has evolved over the last few decades, Christmas has become a multi-event juggling act for people who are young and old, rich and poor, active and inactive, or urban and rural.

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Take my son, for example, a Southern California native who might just be the perfect representative for how Generation X has had to coordinate their Christmas schedule to fit America’s new millennium.

This is how it works: He and his girlfriend spent Thursday night with her father and his wife in Southern California. Then they flew to North Dakota Friday morning to spend an early Christmas with me and our family for the rest of the weekend. Late Sunday they flew back to Southern California to go back to work on Monday and then split Christmas Eve between my son’s mother and his girlfriend’s mother. After that their plan was to spend Christmas Day at his girlfriend’s aunt’s house.

This is now an example of a typical “under 30 person’s” Christmas schedule and it takes no less pre-planning than the WWII invasion of Europe, Japan and the more recent bombing of Baghdad combined.

Of course, travel plans need to be arranged much in advance, schedules synchronized, presents purchased, wrapped and sometimes shipped in advance, work at one’s place of employment needs to be completed in advance, clothing needs to be washed and items selected for wear on specific days, (taking into consideration the changes in climate), airports visited, food inhaled, and sleep needs to be fit in wherever possible. It’s not for the faint of heart.

When I was young, we went to Christmas Eve at Grams and Gramps house and then ventured to one of a selection of aunts and uncles on Christmas Day, every year. It was so simple, but not anymore because society has just gotten a lot more complicated simply because families today are broken, repaired, broken again and repaired again.

Silver and golden anniversaries no longer exist and have been replaced by short, long and too long marriages. In other words, what used to be considered a long date is now a short marriage, or is it the other way around?

Quite frankly, I’d hate to be a little kid, wondering when (rather than if) mommy will be divorcing daddy and then wondering when she’ll be divorcing daddies II, III and IV and then breaking up with boyfriends I, II and III and so on.

Children either need to purchase a photo album just to keep track of their parents significant others or not bother to get to know them at all because … why bother?

Then once they grow up and follow the pattern of their parents, they’ll need a little black zip drive instead of a little black book and/or a computer blessed with ample gigabytes of memory to keep track of who they dated when.

“Do you remember Jill?” your now adult son asks you.

“Yes I do,” you say, “She was my significant other from June of 2011 through August of 2012, before I met Rebecca, who I dated from that August until May of 2013 when I met Amanda.”

I once heard that the word “marriage” was derived from the word “mirage” and comedian Alan King once said that if you want to read about love and marriage you have to buy two separate books.

Whatever the case, the current unpredictable state of marriage has forever altered holiday schedules, adding more days to what once had been an immovable date, one that, in this case, now gives you a pre-, current and post-Christmas Day; three days for one, which is great, if it adds to the meaning.

For as noted author and playwright, author Charles Dickens once said, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Holten is the manager of The Drill. He writes a Wednesday column for The Dickinson Press. Email him at