Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday Simplicity ...

Mom came by yesterday morning to have some egg foo young. That's not the point of this story, but who doesn't love leftover Chinese food for breakfast? And egg foo young is egg-based, and therefore extra ideal for the first meal of the day.

The point is, she was here. And we were gabbing, as we hadn't talked in a couple of days. And the conversation wound its way around to Christmas, with her revealing that she has no idea what she's getting anyone, and I mentioned that I don't really want anything.

Which isn't true. There are always CDs I'd like. There are always movies. There might even been a book.

But "stuff" for stuff's sake? Nope. I feel encumbered by stuff. I want less stuff, not more.

Of course, I have a list a mile long of things I'd like to do and get for the house. But that's about creating my environment not acquiring stuff. Could I make do with the ceiling fan in the family room? Yes. Would I like to replace it? Yup. (I know ceiling fans are anathema to designers, but I like them in certain rooms.)

I would like to get up on Christmas morning and open one or two things, perhaps, just for the tradition of it. But piles of gifts and the ensuing piles of wrapping and ribbon and then the ensuing finding of places for the new stuff? Nah.

The older I get, the more I really do just want to dispense with all the trappings. Not in a "Bah! Humbug!" sort of way, just in a "focusing on what matters" sort of way.

I've done the stressed-out, planning-shopping-baking-wrapping-decorating-shipping-mailing-cooking holidays and by the time Christmas arrives, I'm really too damn tired to care. What's the point in that?

I like giving gifts. I like wrapping presents. I like baking cookies. I like preparing food. I like making people happy. But I want those acts to be a source of – and infused with – love and joy, not obligation to some unattainable holiday ideal.

Mom was telling me about a couple she knows who no longer even put up a Christmas tree. Their children are grown and away and the couple spends the holidays alone together and they just can't be bothered, I guess, to put up a tree or otherwise decorate.

We both find that sad. I told mom that even if I didn't put out another Christmas decoration – and I don't put out many as it is – I'd still put up my tree. I love the glow of a Christmas tree. It soothes me.

In the car the other night, I was thinking about all the holiday hubbub that's about to arrive in earnest and how much I don't want it to come, how much I want to stay on its fringes, not enter the fray. And I thought about the year that my mom and dad gave my niece the Miss Kitty (Hello Kitty for the rest of you) CD player. She was wee then. Four, perhaps? Five? I can't remember, exactly. But she really wanted the music from "The Wizard of Oz." And after we had opened gifts, I walked into my parents' room, and I spied her lying on the floor at the foot of their bed, her little head very near her new Miss Kitty player, the volume very low, and she was singing, very softly to herself, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."

It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

That is what I want for Christmas. Memories so dear to me that I cry every time the come to mind. (Yes, like right now.) I can't tell you what I received for Christmas that year. I'm sure it was something nice. But the vision of my niece in her pretty little Christmas dress lying on the floor and singing, almost in a whisper? That I cherish.

She's more grown now, a teenager. But every year, on Christmas Eve, she makes it a point to snuggle into me on the couch in my parents' living room, in front of the fireplace. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we don't. We're just together. In the glow of the tree and the warmth of the fire and the chattery din from the next room.

Memories. New memories. That's what I want for Christmas.

And maybe some chip and dip. Mom makes really good dip.

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