Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Musings

Oh, well.  Enough of...that.  I think I'll just write about Christmas.

Christmas.  Christmas and I have a love/hate relationship, with the "hate" side growing more and more dominant as I grow older.  In fact, it seems like the "love" half is mostly a memory of love.  I don't love Christmas anymore.  Not really.  Because so many of the things I loved have gone away.   

One of my favorite parts of Christmas was the gift-giving...but we stopped doing that a couple of years ago.  Let's face it:  when and you've lived your life in mostly comfortable middle-class-ness, by the time you've completed your sixth decade, you have probably acquired most of the affordable trappings of the station, several times over.  What you don't have, neither you nor anyone likely to have you on their Christmas list can afford...which is pretty much why you don't have it.  For a couple of years, I tried coming up with more imaginative things like promises of help with a project or gift certificates for dinners out.  Among my unimaginative family, those kinds of things never caught on, so I gave up. buying and hiding and wrapping and hoping the gift hits its mark on Christmas Eve.  Sure, we don't have to fight the retail crowds or sweat the Christmas rush delivery schedules.  But that might have even been part of the fun.

Christmas parties used to be fun.  In our younger days, we had some of our most fun times at work parties. I remember champagne and pretty clothes and dancing in a conga line on blistered feet in sparkly shoes; and winning a television in a raffle drawing.  But the husband has worked 22 years for a company owned by a Jewish family, where many of the workers are Asian non-Christians; so the company Christmas party went out the window a long time ago.  When we had the restaurant, our Christmas parties were one of the few highlights of that miserable time.  We even had a couple "reunion" parties after we closed the place.  But after 5 1/2 years, everyone is pretty much spread to the four winds, young people with kids and lives and friends of their own. 

And we don't have any friends, so we don't entertain.  The family comes up sometimes for a day or two during the holiday season, weather permitting.  But the older we get, the less weather permits.  Even a heavy rain storm is enough to keep us off the roads and trapped in our homes.   

The one Christmas indulgence that has yet to be killed off in me is my love (bordering on obsession) of the trappings of Christmas.  I adore the decorations.  Can't resist a cute or quirky ornament or chotchky.  If it sparkles, I covet it.  I think all my love for the season that used to find its release in many directions--in the gifting and the parties and the little dinners with friends--has been channeled into decorating.  The end result is that I have acquired boxes and boxes of Christmas crap, which take me a week to sort out and arrange in early December, and as long to disassemble and pack away six weeks later.  Which nobody sees but me and the husband and the cats and the occasional mail person or UPS driver.  I think one definition of insanity must be to spend a week putting up decorations that no one ever sees.  I do enjoy them, yes.  But maybe not enough to invest eighty or a hundred hours each year putting them up and taking them down.

In my morning devotions, I honor my spirits of the West--Gull and Pelican--and ask them to guide me to freedom through unburdenment.  Every morning since November 1, I have been fully aware of what I need to unburden myself of.  In so many of the spiritual texts I have read, we are admonished to set aside things that no longer serve.  And I have a house full of those very things.  From which I need to pry my nostalgic fingers and just...let go.                      


  1. How about a virtual Christmas party? Yeah kind of hard to send the punch through the broadband but we to be able to come up with SOMETHING.

  2. Oh, Lisa, this post resonates with me. I have always loved Christmas, and always enjoyed spending hours making it the best I could possibly make it for family and friends. But now my kids are grown and gone. My sons (who are 31) still love coming home for Christmas (although only the one who lives here is able to do that), but my firstborn lives in VA, and my daughter who lives here is very ambivalent about all holidays, including Christmas. We still exchange gifts, but my adult children of course have lives of their own, and the 2 who live here come over for a few hours and then they're gone, and it's just me, cleaning everything up by myself, which I find rather depressing. This year is the last time we'll celebrate Christmas in this house. After 33 years of living here, I'll put it on the market in the spring. So I put up all the decorations for one last time, because it's so beautiful, with a big tree all the way to the ceiling, sparkling with a zillion tiny white lights, and smaller trees around the house and lit garlands on the stairs. Both kids who live here said they would come over to sit with me in front of the fire one night, looking at the tree and sharing a cup of Irish coffee or a glass of wine, but that hasn't happened. They have other things to do, and I know I was the same when I was young, so I'm not faulting them. They'll be here on the 29th to open gifts, and if I cooked, they'd come back for dinner on the 30th (we're celebrating late because Chris, who's a paramedic, had to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). But I've decided I'm not cooking this year. I always made Julia Child's beef bourguignon. Everyone loves it, but it's a lot of work, and no one has the time or inclination to come over to help, or even to sit in the kitchen and have a glass of wine with me while I cook. I've been doing this since I got married, so since I was 24, and now I'm 67, and I've decided it's someone else's turn. If no one steps up to the plate (no pun intended) then we just won't get together on the 30th. And in early January, like you, I'll be packing away all the Christmas decorations, with no idea of when or where or if I'll unpack them again.