Posted by: Maryann McCullough | December 8, 2011

Story for December 2011


Some of the wonderful women in my Wise Women Write group. Though each is a special woman, we do not normally wear crowns.




I never send Christmas cards.  My reaching out to the big family and friends will happen.  It just might occur on the Fourth of July or Easter, the first day of spring or Thanksgiving.  I send my reach-out epistle pretty religiously but never allow it to be caught in the Christmas plethora of greetings.  I pride myself on those letters and I don’t want them ending up in the “groan” pile.  When a newsletter-style greeting is sent and received in February or July, it is more likely to be read, relished, and even responded to by the recipients.

Feeling very strongly that Jesus was not born to improve the last quarter fiscal reports of major retailers, I don’t Christmas shop.  I pretty much have a mall-free Christmas.  For the larger widespread family, I may bake bread, or make wreaths, or aprons for little children, or bookends from bread dough.  But gifts that can be purchased, wrapped, opened and then returned to a store – I just don’t do that.  The men in my life (There are four of them.) want to avoid malls under any circumstance so the Jesus rationale may not be their primary rationale.  They just don’t like to shop. What our family of five has done for many years is to give “days.”  Someone takes the family out for lunch and a movie.  Someone treats for breakfast and a shopping trip to the bookstore.  Someone might organize and pay for a family portrait. 

And don’t look for red and green around my house at Christmas.  I think our holiday house looks so beautiful. But beautiful in bright pink, purple, blue and gold.  No moral imperative was involved in this choice; I just don’t like red and green.  And the ornaments, those bright shiny balls reflecting the lights on the tree?  I don’t have any of those either.  I do have a whole flock of birds, each bird gold, of various sizes and poses, nesting within the branches.  In addition I have flowers – large poinsettias in shades of rose and wine, and of course pinecones to provide seed for the birds.  Gold birds would obviously search for seeds in gold pinecones.

Of course I bake for Christmas.  Never have made a fruitcake however.  I can’t imagine why I would.  I don’t make Christmas cookies either and suspect this has something to do with sons who never showed much enthusiasm when I suggested we bake Christmas cookies together.  But zucchini bread will appear on our table this Christmas morning just like it has every year for a long, long time.

So the McCulloughs do have traditions, just not traditional tradition.  Bill will certainly light a fire Christmas morning. Colin, who was an impoverished student and is now an equally poor journalist, will once again give his father a big Hershey bar.  Casey, our environmentalist son, will continue to wrap any gifts he gives in newspaper. I’ll prepare a lovely table in the dining room with as much gold sparkle as I can muster.  At dinner that evening, Michael will surely (with sarcasm) once again make his annual proclamation, “This is the best Christmas ever!” 

And who knows?  He just might be right.






  1. Of course you wouldn’t make Christmas cake (fruit cake) because you’re not Canadian. I love my Mom’s special recipe and it is delicious the years that I choose to make it. The recipe makes 25 pounds as fruit cake is the traditional wedding cake in Canada. I share it with Canadian friends that enjoy fruit cake. I don’t care for anyone else’s fruit cake as fruit pieces are usually too big and cake is dry. Mine is wrapped in bourbon soaked cheesecloth and heavy tinfoil for 2 or 3 weeks so flavors are rich and cake is moist.
    Bob and I never let our Christmas greetings from friends get lost in the bathroom as ours apparently did one year which was rather amusing to hear… almost made a decision then not to send another to add to your ‘groan’ pile but decided that would be silly as we love to read your yearly letter. We open the cards each evening together and take turns reading them and sharing the photos. It is my favorite time of the year hearing from all of our dear friends.
    Maryann, your writing as usual is witty and informative- love it! It was nice to read about the McCullough traditions in your home and I’m sure that Megan will add a few new ones for all of you to share.

  2. I look forward to sharing these traditions with your whole family this year! Of course it will be the best Christmas yet!

  3. It was wonderful seeing you last week, Maryann! We should celebrate something together every month 🙂

  4. Hey Mom, nice work. I’m proud of our Christmas traditions and I’m glad you shared them with the world.

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