I’ll be at home, my apartment, so exciting. Well, it might be relaxing, I’ll give it that. Maybe even enjoyable? I, for one, won’t mind it too terribly much. Sure, it would be nice to be closer to family, to pass out a few presents with the somber, but enlightened thought that you probably put more thought into the gifts you gave then went into the ones you’ll receive. I know, I know, that’s not very “Christmasy” of me, but you’ve had the same thought, just admit it.
I won’t mind just staying home. Honestly. I’ve gotten the endearing invitations from people with looks of utter concern on their faces as if I’ve just been sentenced to a slow, agonizing death and I have appreciated them, but it’s just nothing that’s absolutely dire, to be around a bunch of people on Christmas. As if being around a smattering of strangers, someone else’s family is better than no one at all! It’s not that serious! Do you enjoy talking to cousin Steve about his drug rehabilitation program? Then why force that on anyone else. Seriously. Don’t laugh, I’ve been in these situations, I’ve endured the complete travesty that awaits on the other side of the heartfelt invite. And granted, a few have been good. Awkward at first, yes, like a newborn calf and then *click* and the holiday cheer flows right in sync with the Peppermint Schnapps, but most…are strange little endeavors.
I chose plan C this year. I can make hot chocolate and read, put a YouTube video of a fireplace on the screen and absorb the “me” time. Maybe make some homemade cookies. I have some passed down recipes sitting in a book that’s just aching to be opened. What culinary family secrets might they contain? What memory might reemerge as I bite into a sugary treat whose exact combination hadn’t been enjoyed by yours truly since I was wearing glow-in-the-dark Voltron pajamas? That wasn’t snatched out of thin air either, they existed and I had them.
It’s not that I dislike Christmas. I’ve been misunderstood on this point. A certain new father would say “don’t get it twisted” and you shouldn’t, because that frankly isn’t the case.
I love Christmas. The secular kind, the enjoyable, non-political kind. Because I have no religion and Santa Claus is just so much better than Jesus, isn’t he? If I had to choose between a home invader and a zombie cannibal, I’ll take the home invader everyday and twice on Sunday, especially when he leaves presents in return for nothing more than some Chips Ahoy. I’m sorry Christianity, but the Pagan holiday roots are infinitesimally more fantastic than your morose, trance-like traditions of gathering in one spot and pretending to be feeling anything other than drowsiness, boredom and mass hysteria. The REAL holiday stuff is the old stuff, the magical stuff because it’s built on legends, stories, the oldest kind of magic, the stuff that the church outlawed hence why the religious parts of holidays suck and that’s the only part that I actually enjoy.
I have worked in retail over the holiday seasons just a bit too long, which is to say AT ALL. I also think I was thoroughly spoiled to too many perfect holidays when I was younger. My mother was as Martha Stewart as anyone could be, but what she also understood was this; that you can CREATE tradition, you don’t have to be nailed down by it. What we do in this place, at this time, well, it’s what we want, what we make of it. Shall we do the same thing next year? Maybe, if we want to. Perhaps we will. Perhaps the thing that we just did this year was so fun that we’ll do it for the next ten! And so it went in my Mom’s house. A tradition I most assuredly will remember and continue.
One year my mom found a double CD Christmas album of orchestral music. Beautiful songs recorded in a bombastic concert hall. You can feel the size of the room and the enormity of the sound when you listen to those songs. All instruments, no lyrics = perfect. There’s room for you to think in music without words, maybe that’s why I love it so much. We LOVED those CDs, loved all 3 hours of them. We loved them so much that the next year my mom decided to put in the CD’s and play them full-bore as my alarm clock to get me up and out of bed so we could drink coffee in our PJ’s and curl up with our blankets and exchange the presents that she was dying to give me that I absolutely, without a doubt, knew I would love. You can give people suggestions, and then there’s people who will know exactly the kind of thing you would love the moment they see it. Even if it’s a gift card to some obscure store at the end of the mall, they know it’s right up your alley, that was my mom, she was never wrong with presents. They were also little works of art, I should add that. She would have said, “oh, I like to wrap,” at this because she was modest, but they were amazing, catalog work you would think.
And so it was that the Christmas at the Pops double album was played at the beginning of Christmas day each year until all the presents were opened, the coffee or hot chocolate was drunk and it was time to start cooking dinner. If I was at my Dad’s or living on my own later, I would get a phone call at around 8 AM or so, and it would be the Christmas at the Pops album, trumpeting in all it’s glory until the first song ended and then we would exchange our “Merry Christmas’s.”
In 2008, there was no music. I had mentioned it to my father. No that’s a lie, I TOLD him to play it. To call me on Christmas morning and play the CD. He had a copy, I made sure. I needed the music to be played, the tradition to keep going, not miss a year, but it didn’t happen and I didn’t mention it again. How can you put the pressure of a dozen Christmas’s on someone’s head? I was a bit heart-broken. But I suffer in silence. In complete and utter silence.
In 2009…there was music. The phone rang, my brother’s number, calling to wish me a Merry Christmas no doubt and to try unsuccessfully to get my nieces to talk to me over the phone. But there was music. I could hear the trumpets and the bells and the flutes that sounded so much closer to the front and it was…beautiful. It was everything to me, it meant everything. If I haven’t mentioned it before Mark, thank you. It might be a simple thing to you, a CD and a cell phone, but that was my link to brighter, magic-filled days and you helped me get back there. Love you bro.
As for me and this Christmas? What shaaaaallllll I do? Read, read, read, whilst you drive, drive, drive, perhaps?
That could be fun, couldn’t it? Why can’t it? Nothing wrong with it.
I’ve been having a thought this week that I should read some Dickens Christmas tales (he wrote a few, you know) and read Poe, back and forth, lock them in a literary bedroom so to speak and see what gothic spawn of holiday cheer they might spur.
I’m speaking of writing a Christmas tale, but a very “me” one. Hmmm, I fear for the genre.
As for all of you, I wish you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!