Saturday, December 15, 2012
Perhaps it is time for my admission: I do not like Christmas.
It wasn't always this way. I grew up in a family that looked forward to it with almost the same enthusiasm we had for summer. We didn't go gaga over gift giving, but we always received what we wanted (within reason) and occasionally it was something that took us completely by surprise, like the rather well-stocked miniature bake set I received one year (I still have the tiny muffin tin), and, later, the ice skates that did not turn me into Peggy Fleming, but I had fun trying.
My enthusiasm might have waned during my first marriage. We had fun decorating the tree, but putting it up was something else altogether. I have no idea why we could not get that tree up without a fight breaking out, but it happened, without fail, for ten years. Even a concerted effort not to go there ended in failure. Fighting over a Christmas tree seems a bit oxymoronic (heavy on the moron), but I suppose it's time to let bygones be bygones. It took awhile, but we are friends now, perhaps because we no longer have to put up a Christmas tree together.
My second marriage fared only slightly better. We couldn't count on a fight for that occasion, they just showed up haphazardly and that's where the fun came in, the element of surprise. That, and a husband who had the good sense to humor me until the deed was done (correctly, I might add), and the household was happy once again, and thus another ten years.
During my brief third try, if one could call it that, putting that tree up turned out to be one of the best parts of the marriage. JB wasn't much for celebrations and so he stayed out of my way, and that's how that worked, for two whole Christmases. One of the things that made it magical was I got to put up the tree in a large rounded corner of the arts and crafts bungalow we purchased right after our marriage. It was a gorgeous tree covered in purple and silver decorations with clusters of glass grapes, apples and pears wrapped in velvet, and all manner of bejeweled birds. Garlands of crystalline snowflakes graced the open stairs. Cool house, cool tree, short marriage. Still friends.
Note: I just called JB in Utah (a reasonable distance), to see if he had any photos of our house and we were both surprised we had none of the inside of this house. I told him we were probably too busy fighting to take pictures and he said, "When we weren't fighting we were having sex, so it all balanced out." I suppose that's one way to look at it.
Now, it's not that I have come to dislike Christmas, I just don't see the point. It has veered so far from any original meaning it might have had that it's become a caricature of its original, if not misguided intention. Yes, my children will come over and we will exchange simple, locally made gifts by folks like Cyrus Swan, a friend and local potter. My older son likes the occasional fancy cigar and so I sometimes contribute. Would it be wrong for me to say I like standing in a good-sized, walk-in humidor and picking them out for him? I suppose it would, but there it is. I never said I would make Mother of the Year. But, my kids still like me and come around regularly, and that's a good thing. I like them, too. I like the people they are, and I stake no claim on that outcome. They are who they are and that's that. They'll be over on Christmas Day.
Oh, alright, I suppose I could put up that little table tree I still have, with a few of the purple and silver decorations I saved from the house on River Street. I carted those fool things out to Santa Fe and back, so maybe they deserve to be reprised, just this once, and I might as well put on my Johnny Mathis Christmas CD... Excuse me for a minute while I pull this punch bowl out of the farthest corner of the cupboard, and maybe my mother's crystal candy dish. While I'm there, might as well get out her Fiestaware gravy boat so I don't forget to use it. My god, she made good gravy... I'm telling you, it's a vortex....
The photograph is of the bicycle atop my garage for no discernible reason, but it was there when I arrived, complete with Christmas lights, and so it shall remain.