Sunday, December 27, 2009


So the fa-la-las are done....the tree still stands but she bears no gifts at her feet (well, one until an errant boyfriend stops by), the thank yous are being written (yes, Glo, I know yours are done) and I'm just happy to be burning all the ribbon and tissue paper and have the mess cleaned up. It wasn't a bad Christmas but it was somehow lacking.

I'm not sure where the problem was. On Christmas Day, there was a nice gathering of family and a few orphans that stopped by to share the joy (maybe a cookie and cocktail). The gifts were nice and everyone seemed pleased. But, tomorrow I will return to work happy just to have had a week off. The greetings of "how was your Christmas" will be met with "fine, and yours?" but that's about it. Now that the girls are grown and two of three are out of the house, I think the pre-Christmas prep to will need some tweaking.

After our fast and furious drive to southern Washington for Thanksgiving, we returned to a lack of leftovers and no family hike with which to start the annual slide show. And it never really did get off to a start. Mark got the lights up when we got back and the house looks nice but, the cheap lights that are being made, didn't make it through even one year of storage which left him frustrated with bad bulbs. The weekend following Thanksgiving, the family went together to hunt for a Christmas Tree and took home two - one for our house as well as Hope's first tree for her apartment. Mark worked on the lights, (which is the worst part of decorating the tree, I think) then left it to us to finish. The hanging of the garland and such has always been a fun precursor to the hanging of the ornaments but, with just three of us at home, it was done with the television on rather than Christmas carols. After it sat for a few days without ornaments, I busted out the boxes and hung our special decorations on my own. Even the ceremonial placement of Angie on the "highest bough" lost it's sparkle. Her triumphant location at the top of a completely decorated tree has always been special, alternating each year between the girls with the dates written on the box top to remind us whose turn it would be. With only one child left in the house, there was no interest on Gloria's part to teeter on the ladder and shove the tree up Angie's skirt - until I did it in her absence. *sigh* I can't win. I think that next year we will decorate the tree again "as a family, DAMMIT" while Sunday dinner cooks, so we can all take part, perhaps with a glass of wine to liven up the procedure.

The whole "Jesus is the reason for the season" was also a big issue for me this year. My Catholic roots still miss going to mass but, every time we go, it seems we are met with a priest who feels compelled to welcome "those of you who we don't see very often". Yeah, Catholic guilt..... way to make me feel good about being here three hours past my bedtime, Father. So we've stopped walking the few blocks to St. Bernard's for Midnight Mass and I think we all miss it, even the agnostics in the bunch enjoy the singing and praying and smell of incense as well as the chilly walk through town. Maybe next year, we'll drive to a different service. Maybe "Our Lady of Perpetual Talk" which, I'm told, can be found across town.

There are the people who feel compelled to wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS with such force and anger, it takes the warmth and sincerity from the greeting, people. "It's OK to say Merry Christmas". You're right and I do. But I also wish the Jews and Pagans a Happy Holiday.... just because they don't celebrate Christmas, doesn't mean they don't celebrate. As for the atheists, too bad, so sad. Your choice. Dealing with God not your cup of tea? Do you need to be so pissy about it that those who DO believe in a higher being, a divinity of any sort must be so defensive? No need to be angry if someone greets you happily during the season. Did anyone else on Facebook receive the Christian challenges? Friends and relations dared me to claim Christ as my Savior while taunting me that 93% of people don't have the guts. Pssh....makes me ALL warm. I found myself wishing people a Merry Christmas but bracing for the attack that might follow. It seemed as if I was somehow being defiant. Christmas shouldn't be that way. And next year it won't be.

Even without Midnight Mass, we had our traditional Christmas Eve clam chowder by candlelight, using the good silver. This year also brought us a few extra bodies that passed through on Christmas Day and that was just fine. We had turkey to nosh and cookies out the wazoo. We stocked the liquor cabinet. We had an elderly friend of Nana's who was without family for the first time so she joined us. A few of Monica's friends whose families are elsewhere came by. I liked it and think next year we will formally issue an OPEN HOUSE invitation. We'll bump us some Christmas carols including Dar Williams doing "The Christians and the Pagans" and hit the hot toddies with a double shot of brandy. Until I have grandbabies' eyes to twinkle, we will adjust our holidays to fit what we have to work with.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Wasn't it just last week I was hanging up my harvest garland and placing pumpkins, real and faux, around my house? Wreaths and mantel were decorated with leaves of gold and bronze...and crows. I just wrapped my banister in autumn garland and now it's time to transition the fall into winter. Down will come the ears of dried corn to be replaced with sprigs of pine and rosemary. The warm earthy brown and rust candles will be replaced with pillars of white and silver (very Martha, no?)

The fall went so fast. Our Indian Summer was so brief and frantic - I've not been out for a paddle in ages. I'm not fond of cold anyway but it seems like the days I've had free time, my water time has been spent spectating at the crashing waves. It's a favorite pastime but does not translate to paddling conditions for me.

Maybe because we went out of town for Thanksgiving which left us without our traditional family hike, family photo and frig full of leftovers, the season hasn't transitioned correctly. I'm determined to remedy that this weekend. I will get down the Christmas bins and fill the air with the sounds of Christmas and the smells of the holidays. I will wrap up gifts so they can be shipped on time. By Sunday, my house, and with it my mind, will evolve into a holiday spirit that I hope will carry me through the season, blissfully ignoring the materialistic hubbub, angry Christian rhetoric and inflatable lawn Santas. I am a lapsed Catholic but not so lapsed that I don't equate Christmas with a kind and benevolent God. I also appreciate the solstice celebrations and the joy and peace that comes with them.

No matter my beliefs or yours, I hope we all get through this season with love and peace and that feeling of wonder we all felt as we prepared for Santa. And, as always, Gloria can enjoy hearing Josh Groban singing her name in long, expansive notes....and she will smile.