Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas and a broken camera

Its funny how Christmas always sneaks up on me. Every year just before Thanksgiving I start getting the itch that I should be getting ready for Christmas. But I put it off and get distracted and then Thanksgiving comes and then its bang! Black Friday which is actually Buy Nothing Day for us because i don't like doing the crowded stores with crazy people thing. I tend to buy local as much as possible.
ANYWAY so then before I know it, its like maybe three weeks before Chrsitmas. We start debating our tree..we contemplate a tree with a root ball every year but I want a big tree so we can't afford that and I swear I'll research it in advance but I don't so we go somewhere nearby.
THIS YEAR we really waited until the last moment. This week. 10 days before Christmas. and it hasn't been feeling a Christmas Tree to ME because we had to forego anything fragile because The Beast will attack the tree. And if anything glass broke and I didn't know and he cut himself I would feel like dirt. SO we just aren't using anything glass. SO the tree looks naked.

AND to complicate my habits around Christmas, we had the Ornament Party in NOVEMBER! NEVER again. I need the party to get me in the spirit IF I'm not. Like this year. But we already had it. So its just me and the kidlets and the husband to festoon the house and create the festive atmosphere. I'm feeling a little nervous. I EVEN missed all the goofy Christmas tv programs and a handful of Christmas events around town I wanted to catch. I was REALLY excited for Alistair Sim's Scrooge at the Senator but I mISSED it.
SOooooooo finally Sophie badgered me into sorting th ornaments and bringing them downstairs and she started putting them on. Still not kicking in the spirit. I'm starting to feel I'm skirting the edges of Scrooge ya know.

For a couple days Soph plugs haphazardly at the ornaments, and Uly shakes the tree and flings low ornaments around the room and I yearn for my glass ornaments because I think the tree looks bare.

Today I jumped in the decorating fray because it was my last hope. Ok a little drama. I plugged away in my annoying perfectionist way getting endlessly frustrated. I finally just say it is what it is and I have to leave it alone.

But just now. In the darkness and quiet of sleeping little ones and no one else in the house, I'm typing and I look over at the tree. It has transformed! Christmas magic arrived while I wasn't paying attention AND IT LOOKS ALL CHRITMAS-Y!!!!!!

This is what I look forward to about Christmas. Its always so hard to explain to the little Scrooges in my life. There's something transformative and reassuring about enacting the rituals. Bringing out the sentimental ornaments, baking cookies, hanging the Christmas cards...doing the things that bring a yearly continuity. And its no ONE thing that marks the arrival of Christmas for me...its the culmination of the little things that seem meaningless on their own.

There is all the adult knowledge of the world and its wrongs and dreads and poverty and death and wars, but Christmas, the holiday season, allows that tiny extra thread of optimism and soulfulness to express itself. Its carrying on despite the impracticality or absuridty of it all because it makes you feel good and helps others feel good too. Even in just small ways. Like hot chocolate, a fireplace crackling, a cookie smell in the oven. But what I'm learning is that these rituals cannot be awakened alone. The performance alone doesn't awaken anything. Both the pageantry and the goodwill require a recipricocity of human beings.

So truly do yourself a favor and let go of the competitive, commercial trauma of the Christmas season and just bask in the simplicities that make the heart feel good.