The tree is all aglow and trimmed with handmade ornaments, our stockings are hung on the mantel with care, the curly willow and pine cone owl arrangement I rigged up is sitting pretty in the corner where it is topped with an origami star, the cool glow of the LED-light-bedecked-branch-filled urns I put on our front porch shines through the picture window. The room is festooned with Santa hats for everyone, yes, even for our poor, good, loyal, gentle dog. And there is a big book of Christmas music open on the piano's music rack to "O Holy Night."
|I am Betsy's dog. Betsy did this to me.|
A person could get the wrong idea. They could walk in my front door, catch the baleful gaze of our mutt, take in a whiff of the clove pomander candle and conclude, "Gee, Betsy sure digs Christmas."
And it's true, I do. I dig Christmas.
I'm not a religious woman. In fact, I am an un-religious woman. But I pride myself on behaving in a way that is more Christian than many Christians. You know peace, love, joy, charity, light, family and such. Christmas is my time to reflect on and cultivate these things in my life.
I love Christmas culture. I love making gingerbread with the kids. I love parties and booze. I love gifting and decorating. I love caroling and dressing my son in sweaters with reindeer on them. I love my girls in red velvet dresses, spiffy white tights, silk bows, and patent leather shoes. I even love sending Christmas cards to my bickering Aunties to stave off their insatiable hunger for contrived photos of said children in said attire.
I hear a lot of beefing from people who do have strong Christmas traditions in their family. They beef about how they absolutely have to get together every year or their mom will just flip out. They beef about how the mountain of gifts they receive when they don't need anything at all makes them feel bad. And they beef about how much of a sham Christmas in general is with it's made-in-China tinsel and a Santa Claus in every mall.
It makes me want to throw snow in their faces.
Quit your ingracious beefing, you butt nuggets! Trust me, you don't want the flip side -- nobody much caring if you're around for Christmas or not, nothing under the tree with your name on it, no big deal. It's not shallow. It's culture. It's tradition. It's human. Without it, we're lost in the dark and the snow all alone. Women do an extraordinary amount of extra work this time of year to keep the home fires burning, the very least you can do is not whine about it.
Yes, it's true, we aren't suddenly full of cheer just because the radio is proclaiming "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Jesus Christ, winter is hard up here in the snow and the dark. It's really really really dark. And it's really really really cold. It's no wonder we have to make merry.
Then, after the Christmas hump, the light comes back in increments and so does the warmth. And that's when we can just let merry happen instead of working at it so damn hard.
When my children are grown they are going to know that they have to come home for Christmas every single year or their mom, (that's me!) will simply freak right the fuck out. They are going to complain to their friends that I'm way over the top showering them with gifts and serving elaborate meals. And my grandkids! Oh, my grandkids are stuffed full of sugarplums already and they don't even exist yet.
Undoubtedly though, those grown kids of mine will turn to each other in conspirational tones and say, "Have you noticed Mom gets a little wierd at Christmas time?"
Because there are blue parts to my Christmas too. There's the part where I get weepy, usually after a phone conversation with my parents or an e-mail from my sister.
So be it. I've got a crap-load of totemic rituals I can perform to ward off those dark spirits. Such as tea-staining my hand-made gift tags while slurping up a rye & ginger and eating the fudge that I bought to put in the kids' stockings but accidentally opened and ate without sharing.
I have no interest in faking merry. But I am gonna make merry, dammit.
|Screw you darkness and cold, we're picnicking in the snow!|