Image via WikipediaThis is the time of year I'm most enthusiastic about Christmas. That nagging "Should I fake some sort of costume?" Halloween question has been resolved in my traditional fashion (costume, no; 50's hat with plastic grapes, "Harvest Goddess," yes.)
I haven't made a Thanksgiving meal in years because I travel to visit my sister. Thank you, Darcy, thank you, thank you, thank you!
After Thanksgiving I must actually prepare for Christmas in whatever minimal fashion I can muster. Jarrett hates holidays (actually he hates change, and disruptions in routine) so ours is Very Minimal! After Thanksgiving I must start reminding myself that Mom had the help of several enthusiastic kids for cookie baking and tree decorating, and that it was usually Dad's growl that got our rears in gear to start cleaning (no one here to whom I can delegate growling.) And since it's just the same old me, I shouldn't expect Christmas miracles beyond the oft-prayed-for sense of humor.
But right now is when I love Christmas most, when I browse through women's magazines, and just for a fleeting moment of insanity think of repainting one living room wall to make a better foil for decorating. Or read in "Last Minute Christmas" a plan to make one or two or five incredibly beautiful wreaths of embossed cream velvet leaves, each wreath requiring 100-150 individually crafted (in 6 steps) leaves. I know, but it's really pretty!
And I temporarily pretend that Jarrett can tolerate Christmas music, and that I'm not diabetic, and that I'm not broke. Because where, I ask you, is the fun in any of that?
In American pioneer days Christmas was celebrated with much drunken revelry, firecrackers, and gunfire. Most people lived in isolation, and everyone lived in quiet, and no one had nearly enough sugar. So a holiday, a change of pace, was filled with longed-for community, celebrating, and general whooping-it-up, as well as an extra egg, a pat of butter, and a tablespoon or two of sugar in the bread.
As recently as my parents' youth, we were in the midst of a great depression. My mother-in-law remembers watching a little girl across the street sit on her stoop and eat an orange, and you can still hear the longing in her voice when she tells the story.
Now we are in the peculiar situation of being surrounded by a merciless torrent of people, information, worldly goods, sugary delights, seasonless grocery shopping, and entertainment. Most of which I kind of like, truth to tell. But what is it we lack?
My point here is not to moralize, but to say, let's give ourselves a break from the idea of a bigger, better, faster, shinier Christmas. We've got a lot of big, fast, and shiny already. That's not what we long for.
Besides the obvious -- enough money, enough time, a healthy portion of sanity and courage -- what I want is time with family and friends, and quiet moments at home. Christmas exists to serve us, lightening our darkness, not we to serve it. Christmas is the time I put on the silly "Christmas in Sweden" music and dance around the living room. As well as the time I put on the tender "Christmas in Germany" music and sit in the firelight and cry for beauty and memory.
Cue the music, begin the dance. And duck and cover --- it's coming!