I wouldn’t call Loretta and I scrooges. I have been in quite the humbug Christmas mode for nigh onto 45 years now. The so-called joy of Christmas waned drastically when my parents said something like, “Since you are now aware there is no Santa Claus, we will be cutting back…(yah dah yah dah)”. The rest of that sentence involved “less of this, less of that”, less of, well, presents. Not to mention my Dad was in a year long period of unemployment, I had to prepare myself for the fact that I already had my LAST real kid Christmas…the year before! Let it be known, we got more presents that year than any year before…go figure.
You must know that that scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark ‘Sparky” Griswold, trapped in the attack, sits watching old 8mm Christmas films with tears streaming down his face is a reasonable, fairly accurate facsimile of me. In fact, I relate in many ways to ‘Gris’, not the least of which was my attempts to make our house a Christmas Winter Wonderland of Lights and Decor minus the movie magic budget of Christmas Vacation. I used to love Christmas, even after my parents’ sit down lecture that fateful year reminding me there is no Santa Claus and your father is unemployed.
In many ways, I still do adore the holiday season, if not for just the memories. We did the Xmas thing for the kids when they were growing up. We had some holiday gatherings with other family members and their children. We exchanged gifts. The gift exchange quickly evolved into exchanging gifts for the children and not the adults any longer. That was just fine. What do you get your sisters for Christmas, a fruit cake? A waffle maker? A Chia pet? Yeah, that’s it! Note to self: Send my sisters each a Barrack Obama Chia pet. They will appreciate the thought, the effort, and the sarcasm behind such a heinous idea for a Christmas gift. And now that all of our kids are close to if not over thirty…well, you know the rest.
So, suffice to say, I, we, have not been the harbingers of the coming of Christmas for quite some time. When the first TV ads appear or the first bits of holiday decor go up in the stores…I wince…DOH, it’s that time of year again!? It just doesn’t hold the same fantasy, warm thoughts, or joy that it used to. And, of course, I am not alone in this. Let’s say the luster is gone due to family lack of interest, the overblown retail focus, geographical restrictions, and work schedules. It’s just not the same as it was.
Clark: Dad, how’d you get through the holidays? Dad: I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels.
So…what’s the point to all of this re-hashed holiday poo-pooing and whining? This year will be a little different! Notice I didn’t go all the way and say simply different. I am making an attempt to improve my attitude about this lovely time of year, and, I can tell you the moment my attitude changed. It was the other day, walking into, of all places, Walmart…and we passed the real Christmas trees for sale outside…and they smelled terrific! I was slapped in the face, not once but twice, on the way in and the way out, with that pine tree smell that can only come from cut Christmas trees. I can’t say that it brought me back to days of old, sitting on Santa’s lap or finding the bicycle sitting next to the tree in the morning, but it did inspire me to do a few things for Christmas…if not for us but for one person: my grandson Rowan.
Rowan, Jen, and Roth will be coming from Seattle to California for a week or so at Christmas. They will spend Christmas itself at Roth’s parents up the hill in Sonora, which by the way is where we will be on Christmas Day (accepting their gracious invitation for the first time in 5 years or so). The “kids” and “kidlet” will travel down to Modesto for a couple of days before driving back to Seattle. We will have Xmas decorations about (Loretta is always up for that), some lights around the front window, and a Christmas tree with a train running around it. A few other simple yet effective surprises are in store. Three year olds are easy to impress!
We will be privileged to spend a couple days at our house with Roth, Jen, and, of course, Rowan. For us big kids, we will cook some non-holiday meal at least once, ie, we tend to lean toward some sort of bistro-inspired concoction, usually something I’ve never attempted, drink a little holiday cheer, watch (possibly, what else), THAT movie to which I eluded above, and enjoy each others company and some holiday cheer. And from what I hear from Jen, Rowan is totally getting into this Christmas thing for the first time, he will be three in December. He deserves to start a string of holidays that are magical for him, since it will all fade eventually and he will have to revive it for his kids, then again for his grandkids. That last part, I will make an valiant attempt to do this year for the period of time I will spend with my grandkid.
By the way, my holiday 8mm movies were transferred to VHS a few years ago by my Mom, and, they are in a box in the rafters of the garage (we have no attic). I will resurrect our VHS machine and sit blubbering in front of the TV at least once this year.
Wish me luck. Where’s the Tylenol…and the Jack Daniels?