Saturday, December 19, 2009

Found: A Little Bit Of Christmas Spirit ...

For reasons that should be clear to anyone who read my last post, I haven't been in much of a Christmas mood this year.

But then, neither have others I know.

The economy is part of the malaise, I'm sure. We've been such a consumption-oriented society for so long that this year, cutting back feels like a bit of whiplash.

I really do believe we're in the midst of a paradigm shift. The past year-plus have forced a lot of people to examine just how much they were buying simply for the sake of buying it. And how little satisfaction can be found in "stuff."

A friend mentioned the other day that she doesn't have a lot of extra cash this year "and Christmas is all about giving ...," so she was feeling a bit down.

But Christmas isn't all about giving, I pointed out. We've made it all about giving. Yes, the three Wise Men brought gifts. I know the story of Christmas. But our modern-day spending sprees have nothing to do with frankincense and myrrh.

Christmas, I suggested to her, is about being with the people you love. I know that children expect presents. And I well remember the excitement of running into the living room on Christmas morning and seeing all that had been left by Santa. And his parental helpers.

But I also see, these days especially, just how much kids have. I know kids who struggle to come up with Christmas lists. They already have everything they want. And then some.

And we've been brainwashed into believing that our holidays should be picture-perfect moments of mirth, all taking place with a perfectly decorated Christmas tree in the background. And a buffet that never appears as though anyone's had anything to eat.

No one ever portrays the run-up to those moments, the traffic snarls and the lines in the grocery store and the cooking and the cleaning and the buying and the wrapping.

I do not mean this as a slam against men, but I don't think most men understand what it takes to pull off any kind of occasion, let alone Christmas. There's an enormous amount of work to be done for those few hours that the fire burns in the fireplace and the house fills with holiday din.

Anyway. The point is, I haven't been feeling very Christmassy this year. And then I was feeling sad because I was feeling blasé.

But last night, I wrapped a few presents and put them under the tree. And I figured out what I'm buying for the remaining people on my list. And I ate an apple because I wanted something but I didn't know what. And then my pal Angelo mentioned on Twitter that he was having friends over for dinner and he ran down the menu, which was capped off with wine.

And I realized that wine was what I wanted. But I also wanted cheese. Which was at the store. So that's where I headed.

There aren't a lot of folks shopping at 8:30 on a Friday evening a week before Christmas. So I had many aisles all to myself. And as I wandered around, deciding what else to buy, I found myself singing along with the Christmas song filling the air from somewhere overhead. And that made me smile. Which made me sing more.

I did have a bit of wine, less than a glass. And I did have a bit of cheese, but it wasn't really what I wanted. But the rest of it will do nicely in a couple of omelets over the next few days.

I watched "Badder Santa," which might be the most offensive-yet-Christmas-themed movie ever made, but I love it. I'm laughing again now, just thinking of Willie's restoration of the advent calendar.

And then, as I am wont to do, I fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up to go to bed, I looked outside and there was just a dusting of snow. I went to bed hoping that I'd wake up to more.

When I woke up, though, I could hear the cars on the street outside, the hissing sound made by water under the wheels. And I thought that the snow must have turned to rain. I love the silence of snow. It muffles.

I looked out the front door and saw that it had snowed a little, but that the street was mostly wet. In the light across the street, I could see powdered sugar falling.

But now, looking out the window, I see respectable flakes, falling at a slight angle, so I guess there's a little bit of a breeze.

I am on the loveseat in my living room now, an afghan laid across my lap, my coffee within reach. The tree is lit and an instrumental version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is emanating from my office. I can hear the ticking of the clock on the wall. This moment is very serene.

This weekend, I will do a bit of baking. And wrap a few more presents.

I do have to run a few errands, including a trip to the post office, which is akin to the DMV on most days, anyway, but will be even more crazed today. But that's OK. I can face it.

I found a bit of Christmas spirit last night. In the nearly empty aisles of a grocery store.

Maybe I'll go for a walk in the snow.


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