Sunday, December 04, 2011

Calm For Christmas ...

I am sitting in my comfy chair, where I do most of my clacking, listening to Quiet Christmas, a CD I made years ago, a collection of not-necessarily-Christmas music, all lovely instrumentals that suit the notion of winter, the hush of the earth.

The tree is lit and glowing as trees do. It is the only source of light in the room, other than my screen. The wine in my glass is lit from behind, speckles of sparkle, ruby red.

I have no desire to move. Perhaps the holidays will come to me.

Sitting on the ottoman on which I rest my feet is a legal pad and a pencil, a place for ideas-cum-scribblings as they fall out of my head. It is December 4th and I already feel woefully behind.

I am a bit of a holiday schizophrenic. As soon as I start to feel the anxious, oh-my-God-there's-so-much-to-do feelings, I remind myself to stop, to breathe, to let the holiday chips fall where they may. What gets done gets done. The doing is not important. It is the being that matters.

The older I get, the more I want to simplify. Or maybe age isn't the reason. Maybe the reason is life. Maybe everything has gotten so manic, so multi-tasked, so immediate that there is simply no further for it to go except the other way, back toward sanity.

I don't mean to hate on Martha Stewart, but she is, in part, to blame. She and her entertaining empire, leading us to feel as though we are less than if our holidays – hell, our lives – are anything less than camera-ready. She, last I heard, has a staff of about 600. I have, approximately, me.

I have taken to designing my own holiday cards because I can never find ones that are exactly right. I have yet to order them this year. I almost did, the other night, but Moo ditched the contents of my cart when I did not complete the transaction. Not that it will be difficult to create them again, but I wonder if I should take Moo's action as a sign. Maybe skip the cards this year, Beth. Think of the time you'll save addressing all of them.

I like to receive cards so it only seems right that I should send them, but maybe this year, I won't. Maybe. Oh, there goes another twinge of guilt.

I have, at least, gratefully, shed the massive holiday baking. Times have changed. Many of those for whom I used to bake are no longer in my life. And the year I baked 14 varieties? Well, that was just insane. Now I sit down with my pad and pencil, list out those for whom I'll bake, and decide what best they'll like. Folks will get a cookie that I know is their favorite, or one I think they'll like to try. Or maybe a few of a few kinds. But the marathon baking is behind me. The joy was getting lost, somewhere in those 10-hour days.

Ideas have been had for gifts. Gifts must now be procured. The wrapping is always welcome. I love to wrap. And I'll help my mom with preparations for Christmas Eve, because I know how much effort it requires, even though she seems to manage it with ease. Christmas Eve is the big dance in my family. Christmas Day is more sedate. My mom was mortified the year she asked me what we should have for Christmas dinner and I replied, "Leftovers."

But I like our lazy Christmas Day, watching TV, grazing on snacks, staying in pajamas, taking a nap. I have no desire to prep a fancy dinner, and Christmas Eve always contains too much food. We have plenty left over and that's fine with me.

I like quiet. I like doing for the joy of doing, not doing with a sense of dread. We pile too much on our holiday plates of to-dos. I don't want to go to the mall. I don't want to fight the traffic. I want to give simple, thoughtful gifts, ordered from artists and brought to me by UPS, then wrapped with care and offered with love. I want to sit with my niece in front of the fireplace and be still and savor the tradition of it.

I want to go for a walk and admire the holiday lights and smile at the homes that are lit with candy colors and hope that there are kids inside who will grow up and remember the magic of homes that glowed. Our house was lit from top to bottom when I was young, colored lights, big bulbs and small, and a kitschy collection of decorations: the big plastic candles flanking the front door, the three bells than hung on the front of the house, lit from within, plugged in who knows where.

These days, all I want for Christmas is calm. Peace and calm and warmth and love.

6 Comments:

Blogger Alison said...

Yes.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Anne Louise Bannon said...

This is exactly what I want for Christmas, too. One of my best Christmases was spent in bed - by choice - with my husband, a pile of books, charcuterie, and bubbly. I so want to do that again. Alas, my mom really wants us at her place.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

@Alison: Yes, indeed.

@Anne: Sounds lovely. Perhaps you can spend Christmas Eve that way?

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

"I don't mean to hate on Martha Stewart, but she is, in part, to blame. She and her entertaining empire, leading us to feel as though we are less than if our holidays – hell, our lives – are anything less than camera-ready. She, last I heard, has a staff of about 600. I have, approximately, me."

Amen to that. A friend recently complained to me about his wife's obsession with creating a "Martha Stewart Thanksgiving" and I knew exactly what he meant. That woman has a lot to answer for...and none of it good.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Martha lost me forever when I saw her, on an episode of her TV show, braid spent foliage to keep it tidy until it was time to cut it back.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

The Queen of England and Martha Stewart are the only two humans who don't fart, right?

7:50 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home