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December 25, 2012

Confessions of a Christmas Afficionado

It's true. Maybe this year more than any other in my adult life. Well, maybe not. Regardless, I love Christmas. It's wistful, magical, and special. I've always liked "special," although I've gotten away from it in my adult life. Days are days are days. But I really do like, maybe even live for, a break in the norm. Something to look forward to. And Christmas is one of those times--one of the only almost-universal ones, at least in the U.S., even though it's based on a religious day. (Even though the celebration of it is highly secular. So, the way I see it, anyone can claim it. The roots are pagan, after all, and it can just be turned into a solstice or winter celebration for those who don't want to honor the baby Jesus. What does Santa have to do with religion? But I digress.)

I love Christmas. I don't like consumerism, I don't like the stress and the expectations, I absolutely loathe the car and jewelry commercials, but I *do* like the giving, and, yes, the getting, and the feeling of togetherness, and the feeling of relief from the usual routine--the shoulds.

This Christmas, I had high hopes. Hopes that I would do many things that *I* wanted to do--including, actually, work on my project. But also reading, and writing, and cleaning, and just being me. I expected to spend most all of the brief holiday alone. Judah left for New York to be with his family on Friday, and I had until Christmas night when he got back to stretch into our apartment, wake and go to sleep when I wanted without anyone's judgement, cuddle with the dog (as much as she cuddles...), work on some unnecessary projects, complete all the projects I've started and still haven't forgotten about. Play the beautiful cheesy 80s music that I wanted to play, watch "The Sound of Music," journal and reminisce and feel the romance of the season. I didn't want it to ever end.

I went to the grocery store and bought myself a tree. A grocery store is one of the most festive places I can think of. Christmas music over the sound system, people buying up fruit and meat and cheese and handfuls of nuts. I almost wanted to go back, partly because I didn't know how to find Christmas music.

Ten years ago, for Erebus, Mom sent me down with mixed tapes of Christmas music that we played through a clugey speaker system using my walkman. Those were the days, eh? This year, things were too high tech for me to even figure it out. We have too many channels on TV, too many radio options through the Apple TV, no Christmas music in Judah's iTunes collection, and I didn't know where else to turn. Eventually, late Christmas eve, I set up a Pandora 'Christmas Traditional' station, which I think is what had been on at some friends' house.

So no, I didn't spend the entire holiday alone.

But I did spend a good couple days mostly alone. My grocery store tree is a Norfolk Island pine, and I was ecstatic buying it but for the embarrassing ornaments included on the light branches.

[Sonora checks out the gaudy decorations.]

[That's an improvement.]

I removed the biggest offender, set the tree on our card table, and put the presents sent by my parents underneath.

Okay, more alongside of. But it will grown. That's the best thing about this little tree. It's alive, and I hope to keep it alive, and to be able to use it again next year. My mom always had a nice, big Norfolk Island pine when I was growing up, so it seems quite the appropriate plant to have in the house. Sans the sparkles. (Will they damage the leaves? Will they [please] wear off?)

This is the view I'll having coming downstairs for Christmas morning! I thought gleefully. But I ended up sleeping downstairs, on the couch (where I cuddled in with Sonora and called my dad to have him read me "The Night Before Christmas") (yes, I'm 36. My brother's older than I am, and he did the same thing), and I'd somehow lost my gusto for a Christmas alone by Christmas morning. It was a sad thing, actually. I was so looking forward to it. But sometime in the evening, I headed off to a friend's husband's stepsister's husband's parents' house for dinner. I could have made that much simpler by just saying a friend's parents' house, but that was more fun.

I wanted to send out a big thank you, though, for various invites. My friend Nancy invited me over for brunch and a movie, Patty invited me over for brunch and a Portlandia marathon, Danielle invited me over for dinner, and Tanja also invited me over for dinner. Tanja warned that her husband, Scott was sick, and that I was still welcome but she'd understand if I wanted to pass. So I passed. But we had a bag of mushrooms to transfer, so we met halfway between our houses (we live about two minutes apart) and she came over to hang out for a short bit. When I took the bag from her, she warned there were other things too. A plate. Of food. Of Christmas dinner. Of this:

Wow. Thank you, Tanja. She also included some hummus and some veggies.

I am spoiled.

And sometime in the afternoon I opened the goods from my parents, while on Google meetup with them. Technology, eh?

Oh, and the crazy looking bear is a story for another time. From Marianne, not my parents. And it's awesome.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Posted by beth at December 25, 2012 9:25 PM

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