Monday, December 20, 2004


I'm at a loss since my weekend was spent largely in bed. Alone. Feeling like crap. I got very little done in the way of Christmas preperation, though I'm not doing all that much since I resist obligatory behavior of any kind and going to the mall to purchase gifts on the fly just to give something to someone feels like a waste of money and time and even of the gesture of giving a gift.

I don't like receiving those kinds of gifts either. You know the kind I'm talking about. The perfume and body lotion set festively arrayed in holiday wrap and set out on those round tables in the cosmetic department of Bloomingdales for people to pick up on their way to the housewares department to buy someone a waffle iron that they will never use.

Gosh I am so bah, humbug about all of it.

I guess it's because I don't have kids. When I was a little kid I LOVED Christmas and not because of the gifts, although waking up to find a ton of packages under the tree was a pretty great rush, right up there with the 8th birthday spent at Disneyland. No, I loved Christmas because I would dress up in a Christmas outfit and see my friends and family and eat great food - the love of the good food is still with me - and we'd sing Christmas Carols. Oh yes we would because I come from a musical family.

My parents used to spend every Tuesday night at Notables practice. This was singing group that they participated in through most of the 70s. My dad is a tenor and my mom is an alto. So anyway we were a lot like the Von Trapps only with a lot less kids. On car trips we used to sing all kinds of songs, Domenica-Nica-Nica and Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot, with my parents throwing down harmony over the piping little voices of my brother and me. So at Christmas we would gather at the fireplace and play Sorry and UNO and sing along to the awesome Christmas album that they gave away at the gas station when you filled your tank. It featured Andy Williams singing White Christmas and Steve and Edie singing Sleigh Ride. The album cover was red and featured little thumbnail photos of all the talent.

The trimming of the tree was also momentous because we almost always made some kind of ornament to add to the evergrowing collection of homemade ornaments. One year it was Ukranian easter eggs. Another year it was ornaments made from flour and water and baked in the over. When we were younger it was stars and candy canes made from construction paper and glued to paperclips. We spent hours stringing popcorn and cranberries which were soon reduced to strings of cranberries, at least at the bottom of the tree, because the dog would nibble off the pieces of popcorn. The top of the tree was a beautiful orange birs with gold ribbons streaming from it's wings and tail. My mom always made apple crisp to be eaten when the tree trimming was completed so the smell of spicy apples and cinnamon filled the air along with Steve and Edie and Andy.

I love those memories and I'd like to think that if I had kids I would be doing all of those things with them, creating Christmas rituals, but the reality is that I'm much older than my mom was when she did all that. In fact, by the time my mother was my age now my brother and I were both out of the house and she was decorating the tree alone and starting to realize that her marriage was a lonely place.

I have continued to do the tree ritual and I love the way it smells and I love to look at the ornaments year after year, each with their own story. But this year I'm tired and I can't be bothered to clean up the mess. Plus, I have this weird sort of sadness about watching a tree die in my living room.

I have looked online for that album, my friend Patrick and his family listened to the same one when he was a kid, so I know it's not something that I've made up. I can't find it though. I wonder if I did and I could listen to it would I be more in the mood?

Probably not.

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