Everyone has a dirty little secret. Mine happens to be that I like Christmas. Now, don’t get me wrong. If I had come across the idea of Christmas as an adult – that most magical, dark, spiritual, materialistic, horrendously romantic of holidays – I would have shunned it on principle the way I scorn Pantene Pro-V because of the commercials and cut Sean Connery out of my will because he’s a woman slapper. What it comes down to is that the nostalgia I feel for Christmas burns in my loins with an eternally glowing fire fueled by mistletoe and yule logs (whatever those are).
Growing up, my little family was militarily strict about following Christmas tradition. The synthetic tree, uniformly decorated with apples, gilt bows, and strictly white lights, was assembled at daybreak the day after Thanksgiving. The Mannaheim Steam Roller and Christmas Choir cassette tapes were the only music allowed in the house for the next month, while we rabidly created homemade Christmas gifts for each other with too much rickrack (really, any amount of rickrack is too much), too much glitter, and usually not enough hot glue. Christmas cookies, 1000 piece Christmas puzzles with horse-drawn sleighs galloping through winterscapes scattered with quilts and baby deer, and Christmas villages with most of the light bulbs burned out littered our usually orderly home, My parents would buy their gaggle of children practical group presents like Geo-Safari, a computer game that helped the user learn all the countries of the world in alphabetical order, and rug-weaving kits, and lots of socks, and hide the presents in the same place in the same closet every year, so we all had a pretty good idea of what we were getting. We would put away our allowances, and save up to buy our parents awesome gifts like cucumber melon bath sets for my mom, and yet another wallet for my dad. When dusk on Christmas Eve finally arrived, we’d pack into our van, our pockets laden with candy canes, to drive around town and look at Christmas lights that other people had put on their houses, since we never had lights on the outside of ours. Singing carols at the top of our lungs, we drove in circles through neighborhood after neighborhood until I got too carsick and we turned back. We never had to wait till Christmas morning to open our presents (the benefits of not having the option of believing in Santa are singular, but important), so after dining on a birthday cake for Baby Jesus, eating too much cheese ball, and drinking way too much eggnog (really, more than a cup of eggnog is too much). we’d open our simple gifts made with love and usually scraps of wood from my dad’s shop, and then watch that awful Tim Allen Santa Clause movie before going to bed with visions of badly crafted doll beds and sugarplums dancing in our overly egg-nogged heads. And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.,,,well, I wish we would have believed in Santa Claus, because I would have believed in him SO HARD.
No, Christmas is family, and 8 sisters wearing matching/coordinating turtlenecks for yet another 3 hour Harris Family Christmas Photo session in the back yard next to the “rustic” wooden fence, and memorizing all the notes to Jingle Bells on the piano finally (even though there’s really only about 12 different notes total in the whole song), and going every year to that damn gingerbread village on that weird houseboat. Christmas is what you make of it, and I know that it is a supremely stressful, possibly lonely time for many people. But for me, its now about Aaron watching the Vicar of Dibley and Mr. Bean Christmas specials with me and actually liking them this year, and going to damn gingerbread villages in casinos, and sewing Christmas hats for the dogs, and cutting down lopsided, half-bald, possibly illegal, Christmas trees. Yes, I am making my own memories and my own cheese balls now, and they are almost as awesome and cheesy as the ones I hold so close to my heart that is two sizes too big this time of year.
And I ask you to remember, as you open these presents wrapped in old paper bags and too much scotch tape, that I was brimming with so much joy and love as I pieced together those little gifts, that it makes up for the amount of hot glue and glitter I used on most of them. Happy Holidays, you fools. I love you all.