Some Christmas truths:
1. It is impossible to feel scroogy or grinchy when listening to the crooning genius of Bing Crosby doing White Christmas.
I was at the mall trying to tackle my list and I couldn’t help feeling put off that I have to buy presents for kids that lack for nothing and probably wouldn’t remember who the gift was from 5 minutes after opening it. Then I heard White Christmas and stopped to hum along. When I struggled with the tangled jumble of Christmas tree lights today I thought “why the hell do I bother with this crap”? But as soon as Bing started doing his thing on the iPod I felt the irritation dissipate as I began to sing along.
2. There is NOTHING like a really good rendition of O Holy Night to remind you why the hell you bother with this crap.
A beautiful song, it’s enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. That song is what it’s all about; not the gifts and the decorations.
3. Our parents did stuff to screw up Christmas for us. We will do stuff to screw up Christmas for our kids. It’s the circle of life.
4. The opposite is also true.
My mother (inadvertently) kind of spoiled Christmas decorating for me. She loves Christmas decorations; the more tinsel (on the walls, ceilings, doors and any other available surface) the better. And she was a Nazi about the Christmas tree. When I was little we were not allowed to touch the ornaments by threat of severe death; seriously what is more tempting to a little kid than all those sparkly shiny objects? As I got old enough to help her I quickly began to dread it because she was so particular about how the lights were attached and where each ornament went. She even had special ornaments that she would put on the back of the tree; before it got pushed into a corner where NO ONE COULD SEE THEM ANYWAY!!!
I thought the house looked over-done and now I veer towards the other extreme; simple tree, a few Nutcrackers, a Nativity, a wreath on the door, a bowl of ornaments on the table and done. I’m now convinced my daughter will go the other way because she loves all the glitzy sparkly stuff too…
I was happy to get into my own home where I could put up my tree my way and if it wasn’t perfect, that was fine by me. My husband also had his own Christmas tree trauma and flat out refused to have anything to do with the process for the first few years. Apparently his parents would take forever to get the tree, end up paying a fortune, and had a crappy stand so getting it in, straight and stable was an ordeal that involved a lot of swearing, yelling and a Christmas tree that was ultimately held up by rope and a nail in the wall…
Well the cure to that is investing in a kick ass tree stand and then heading to Superstore where Douglas fir trees are $20. The tree is up in 10 minutes and doesn’t move until I take it down on New Years Day.
But despite the tacky, the drama and the crazy, we were all together every Christmas and once the big day came everyone was pretty relaxed. Or, I realize now, into the wine. 🙂 We had some traditions that changed, some that were sacrosanct and others that disappeared but the one constant was family. I loved piling into the car and driving out to Banff en masse. Being allowed to stay up as late as we wanted (one year I made it to 3:30 am!) was a treat reserved for the holidays. And in true Greek fashion, there was always food. Lots of it!
Because of how territorial my mom was about the tree, I go the opposite way. Once the children were mobile enough to do damage, I bought all plastic ornaments so if the kids drop ‘em, it’s no big deal. They helped me decorate the tree today and its adorable how 75% of the ornaments were no more than waist high until they tell me “fix it mommy!” My only rule is they can no longer touch the Nativity and the Nutcrackers, even though they love them, because I am tired of gluing the damn things back together…
Maybe when they grow up they will complain that I was unreasonable about the Nutcrackers and buy some just for their kids to play with 😉
Last but not least:
5. There is no Christmas like a White Christmas.