That first Christmas as a widow was a challenge, and I kept the decorations quiet—mostly green and white. Instead of putting the leaves in the table, as I did when there were 10 of us, I squeezed us all close together, avoiding an empty chair. And on Christmas morning, in anticipation of the family celebration, I issued a Christmas decree:
Lev, Christmas Day 2004
Whereas, Grumps personified the spirit of Christmas with his generosity, merriment and love of all things Christmas; and
Whereas, he exhibited that spirit in his collecting and giving of noisy, gaudy Christmas decorations and toys; and
Whereas he further exhibited that spirit in the wearing and giving of Christmas ties, as well as the wearing of Christmas shirts from plaid to print, Christmas socks and even Christmas pants of red plaid, patchwork, holly sprigs and candy canes and always a bright red blazer;
Be it hereby resolved by his family, heirs and friends to honor his memory by perpetuating his joyous celebration of Christmas; and
Be it further resolved to banish all that is pretentious, sophisticated, stuffy and somber from Christmas gatherings and celebrations; and
Be it further resolved that, while an occasional, grumpy “Bah! Humbug” is permissible, the spirit of generosity, hospitality and joy shall erase any tendency toward stinginess, misanthropy or sadness; and
Finally, be it hereby decreed by the reigning matriarch and dowager that all black, brown, gray, purple, lavender and other drab, somber colors shall be banned from all Christmas celebrations; and that celebrants shall be properly attired in all that is merry and bright.
This decree is effective immediately.