Struggling with the commercialism of Christmas
I am having a Christmas struggle this year. Before I share my story I need to be clear, this is not a judgement piece. I have no judgement for anyone on how they do the holidays. As my daughters say “you do you and I’ll do me.” (That is actually usually said to me when the youngest one has lost patience with my nagging!)
I am SO respectful of shops and vendors and makers and doers out in the world promoting their products and providing amazing holiday presents for people to give their loved ones. Hell, I am buying some of those very wonderful things. I am in awe and love what each of you is doing. Please keep doing it!! I need you!!
This has been an usual pre-Christmas for me. In the past I have been in Vermont and more recently at Starlight Farm nesting, setting up the house, dragging car loads of packages in the house every day. For years my sister Puddy and I had a contest to see who could get their Christmas shopping done and wrapped first. She kicked my ass one year having it all done by HALLOWEEN!! Today I sit and write to you all from a tropical island in the Gulf of Mexico. As a born and bred East Coaster, I find the whole decorating of palm trees super fun and delightful but not Christmassy at all TO ME. So on December 17th I find I have very little prepared and can not bring myself to promote my business. In fact, I have shut down all shipping until after the New Year….why?
I don’t think that I have lost the spirit of Christmas. I am almost sure it is just dormant. In fact, now that I think about it…I actually think I have it back. I think I am internally very Christmassy without any desire to produce more piles of plastic, discarded paper, or things which will end up in a landfill. I am feeling a little Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish….if my children don’t look out, they are each going to get a corn husk doll and a peppermint. Hell, if I had gotten my shit together earlier I would have needlepointed you all something special. That to me is where I’m at.
I am so looking forward to flying to Vermont on Wednesday and having (many of) our children under one roof. I am also excited to have two of their significant others, my sister and my brother-in-law around my table. I’ve just ordered electric blankets to keep everyone warm. (thank you Amazon for not being like me and shutting down your site!)
We have a huge pile of firewood to keep both the living room and the kitchen fires aglow. I am excited to pull out my silver feather tree with it’s little antique ornaments from the basement and set it up in my dining room. I can’t wait to get my lifetime collection of both gorgeous and funny ornaments for our big tree out of my special hiding place. I can’t wait to go pick up my 6th needlepoint stocking from my friend Maria at my local needlepoint shop. I have visions of a traditional Christmas Eve fondue party (my sister is already telling my children the story of when the table lit of fire when they were babies asleep upstairs.).
For many years my vision of Christmas was giving my children things which made them smile. Trying to find the right gift. This year, as our children are adults, I have different visions, actually memories of them traveling with us. Drinking wine together in Napa, having dinner in Yosemite. Black tie in Palo Alto, standing on the top of a mountain looking over wine country. Those are the gifts I want to give my children now that they are out working in the world. In someways Christmas has already happened for us.
Our Christmas was a little different last year. We had a snow storm. We had family visiting. We had a houseguest most of us had never met. We had a Christmas birthday. We had family members of a loved one have to leave town in a rush to meet the arrival of a new Christmas birthday baby. Things kept changing by the hour, the snow kept coming down, faces came and went. Laughter and love happened with us all together in snowy Vermont. I remember NOTHING about the presents. I remember the presence. I remember the laughter, the toasts, the board games. I remember my brother-in-law Phil’s hilarious laughter bellowing through the house when one of those board games got really out of hand. I remember explaining mucus plugs and dilation in a fancy french restaurant in the country to an awaiting new uncle while his sister was in labor. And the joy the whole house felt when the good news came that Baby Bowen arrived after midnight and would share his Christmas birthday with Uncle Ethan!
This year I am excited for Bing, Nat, and Dean. I am excited for friends. I am excited for extended family. Fires, board games, fondue. Birthday Cake. Needlepoint stockings. Many of our children under one roof. All of it. Every last smidge.
I will get the presents together, but I am really looking forward to the presence of loved ones.