Friday, December 28, 2012

And So This Is Christmas

We say a melancholy goodbye to another Christmas.  Although I seldom admit it - and in fact make a rather large deal of being a bit of a humbug - in reality I do love it.  At least, I love the true meaning and idea surrounding Christmas.

I did, in fact, get the tree assembled.  It took staying up until the wee hours of the morning.  I finally dragged myself to bed and dreamed of sugar plums - or perhaps it was clementine vodka.  In any event, the next evening I took a picture of it.  As I looked through the lens, I realized something was dreadfully wrong.  One of us was tilting.  I was fairly certain it wasn't me.
Miraculously I had my cell phone in my pocket and was able to call 911.  Not literally, of course, but my paramedic son did arrive just in the nick of time as the entire monstrous elephant of a tree collapsed.  He was able to mitigate the damage by catching it on the way down.  I should have taken a picture of the wreckage (but I fear I'm not photogenic) - and of the tree with lights dangling and branches missing and ornaments scattered across the landscape.  At first I cried, and then we started to laugh.

The next morning, with the tree once again secured in its base (Charlie hammered it together and I still don't know whether I will be able to get it disassembled - I am fearful I might have to live with it up all year) I began again.  After all, Christmas is a season of hope.  Some of the lights were in such a tangle it was hopeless to try to make them right.  It would be less "glow-y" the second time around.   But that is a very small thing.

Christmas is not about twinkling lights,

Or Prancer and Dancer and Donder and Blitzen...

Or faux snowflakes...

It isn't about Christmas crackers and party hats, or whistles and riddles...

It is about wonder...

It's about laughter and joy...

And traditions...

It is about remembering in prayer...

But most of all, Christmas is all about love...

Which, I believe, is the best birthday present we could possibly give that sweet, small infant.

I hope your own holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas or something else or nothing at all, was filled with magic.  Mine was.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Best Books for 2012

Every year I make Christmas an exhausting chore and every year I tell myself, "This is the last year I'll do that."  About a decade ago, already mid-December, the stockings were on the mantle, the twinkle lights were outside, Christmas cards were taped to the fridge, but still no tree…and no one in the family seemed to notice or care enough to find a perfect one - or even a not so perfect one.  I found myself at Walmart one day standing beneath a gigantic artificial tree which was on display as a holiday decoration.  It towered above the other trees that were being offered for sale.  I had been disgruntled, but looking at that tree made me feel happy.  I wanted that tree.  I was determined I would have that tree.  Tree lust took over.  I asked, haggled, and begged for that tree.  I tried reason, "Please, sir, Walmart is in the business of selling trees and I want to buy that one!"  The manager seemed unmoved.  "Ma'am, that tree is a floor display.  How about that one?  Or this one?"  Perhaps it was something in my sad eyes, or perhaps it was because I suggested I would chain myself to the tree until he relented, but after staring at me for a few seconds, he called a stock person over and told him to dismantle it and find a box "somewhere" that would be large enough for it.  Oh, joy!  It's mine.  It is truly mine!  Triumphant I pulled an oversize floor trolley cradling my tree out to the parking lot.  It was only then that I remembered I drove a very small car.  While love can, and often does, last forever, lust is a fleeting thing.  The romance had already begun to wear thin. 

I still have that blasted tree and anticipate dragging it down the stairs in its two coffin-sized Tupperware bins tonight.  After fighting with the stand and the branches and then the lights, it will look beautiful, I am quite sure.  It always does.  I still wonder why I do it after promising myself I would not.  I guess it wouldn't seem like Christmas without some craziness.

There will be very little time for reading in the next two weeks, but after the holiday frenzy settles down, I'll open that can of Hubs Virginia Peanuts that I know I will get for Christmas and make a new reading list.  Winding down another year, I am happy that work went well, my children are happy, and Shorty has not burned the house down yet, but I have not remotely reached my reading goals.  I often wonder if setting some arbitrary goal is a good thing for reading…or for weight loss - keeping in mind the can of Hubs.  Aren't there enough pressures placed upon our persons?  Why would we want to import more?  So I say "Goal, Schmoal."  Anyway, there were a few gems in the year and these were my favorites in no particular order:

The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan Twan Eng
The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
Defending Jacob, William Landay
The Fallen Angel, Daniel Silva
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
The Sea Hawk, Rafael Sabatini

And the worst thing I read this year was, it pains me to say, The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. 

Now, it's off to the attic to cart down Christmas.  The chaos will come whether I'm ready or not, so I might as well strap it on.