For those of you who know me well, this statement won't surprise you in the least: I am not a member of the population who gets stressed out by Christmas. I love Christmas time. For a few weeks, the decorations, the music, and, if I'm lucky, the snow make the world feel new and magical, full of hope, cheer, and kindness toward others. Santa Claus, the emphasis on shopping and presents, and inflatable decorations don't sing "Christmas spirit" to me, and I don't see them as part of the same world of hope, magic, and kindness from which I derive such visible joy. I get excited about Christmas not because it's a time when presents will happen -- but because the vast sea of familiarity presented in new ways every year is simultaneously comforting and exciting. How will Diana Krawl or Harry C riff on old classics? What new songs inspire me? What old Christmas movies will pop up and make me remember something from childhood? I'm not saying that there aren't sad memories associated with some Christmas seasons. I'm not saying that I love spending hours shopping. What I am saying is that the joy I derive from watching "Muppet Christmas Carol" heals the wounds of everyday life and the past years' crises. The whole season is an interior experience for me that I am grateful I get to share some of with others.
Also, there's the smell of balsam fir trees.
Yesterday, Dan and I put up our tree. The last few winters were spent in Somerville, and we got our trees at this cute little place called Ricky's Flower Market in Union Square that was always bustling and bristling with humans and cars. It was exciting! And they had quite a selection. But all I wanted was balsam fir. This year, we live in Jamaica Plain, and there is a florist down the street from our house (literally!) that we popped down to. Everything they had was the freshest balsam fir, and for half the price of the trees at Ricky's. The place had people there, but it wasn't so cramped, and there was plenty of parking. It was simpler.
I mentioned the tree was fresh, which means that it was also dripping with pitch. I'm glad we used a crappy sheet to wrap it up with before putting it in the car and carrying it up the stairs. My hands got pitchy, too, when we were putting up the lights. Fortunately, butter removes pitch with no effort whatsoever, so there were no problems there. We decorated the tree, putting up some ornaments that are older than we are, and some that my brother made when he was in kindergarden -- and some that we bought when we got our first Christmas tree as a couple. Visible nostalgia. We watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" before blissfully falling asleep.
This morning, I woke up to snow. I believe I jumped out of bed and screamed (perhaps screeched) "It's snowing!" and ran around the house opening all the curtains and plugging in the Christmas tree lights. Then I made buckwheat pancakes and cranberry sauce. I just get so excited this time of year!
The holidays make me reflect, and that's one thing that I always enjoy the opportunity to do. At our much-reduced-in-numbers Friendsgiving this year (cozy and full love and warmth nonetheless), there were few enough of us to go around the table and state something we were each thankful for and still hear each other. I am grateful that I am finally feeling better in time to enjoy the holidays. A few weeks ago, I woke up feeling WELL. Not just ok, but well. I had energy, and I was in as much of a good mood as is possible for me in the morning before 9am, and I felt normal. That hadn't happened for months. Between the gastritis, the allergy attacks leading to sinus infections, laryngitis, and visual migrains, I had really been sick for four and a half months. It's so nice to feel like I have myself back again. And I have close friends and family to share it with. What more in the world could I possibly ask for?