Friday, December 6, 2019

The Season

I'm ambivalent about Christmas. The sentiment, don't get me wrong, is great. Maybe it's the TV commercials. Some gal is always standing outside her house in the moonlight wrapped in a pristine white muff and matching mittens, ogling the new Lexus wrapped in a giant red bow. I don't give a damn about the car, but in my latitude in December, we don't stand outside unless our car battery has died and we're stranded on the side of the road peering helplessly inside the open hood's innards, frantically punching numbers into our cell phone.

Not to mention the carolers. If a group of random strangers perched outside my front door warbling Christmas carols, I would panic and begin rummaging through my cupboards for anything I could feasibly turn into hot cocoa. Finding nothing, I would slip off the light switch and quietly creep upstairs to my darkened bedroom.

It wasn't always this way. There was a time when I would pick a Saturday night in December, punch up some holiday music, assemble my huge artificial tree in the downstairs family room and make a night of placing the ornaments and garlands and lights upon it, arranging and rearranging until everything was perfect.

When one's kids are little or at least semi-little, Christmas is fun and as awe-inspiring as that fake woman and her luxury car. There are holiday clings to paste on the windows and fat stockings to hang from a surface that mimic a fireplace, which I did not have. Letters handwritten to Santa and shopping lists cleverly written in shorthand (a lost and useful art), covert trips to the mall to purchase everything (yes, everything) on the wish lists; hiding the Lego sets and Masters of the Universe figures in a bedroom closet until secret wrapping day.

Stringing air-popped corn on green thread and twining it around the tree to simulate an old-fashioned Christmas.

Too, Christmas music used to be fun, or at least fun-kitschy. I remember playing Alan Jackson's Christmas CD when my son walked into the room and asked, "What is this? The saddest Christmas ever?" (admittedly, it was kinda sappy.) Now when I hear "I'll Be Home For Christmas", all I do is cry. Because there is no home anymore.

We weren't church-goers. I once was. As a teen, I went to midnight mass and reveled in the mysticism. Then the seventies arrived and church was forgotten amid the excitement of gathering together my few dollars to search out appropriate, cheap gifts for every single member of my family, and especially for my very very best friend.

How do I feel about Christmas now?  It's mostly an obligation. Fake cheer. If I could attend midnight mass in a little chapel, I would choose that over anything. As one ages, they pine for times that can't be recreated, because their most cherished people in the world are gone. We distract ourselves with Secret Santas at work and spend dollars we can't afford on presents that will be forgotten in a day and breathe a sigh of relief when everything is over.

Bear with me ~ I liked this song in the sixties, and it brings back good Christmas memories.

I give it my all to listen to Christmas music every year at least once before December 25, and I will this year, too. As the days pass, I will share some of my favorites.

Just ignore my tears.

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