CHRISTMAS BLUES GOT YOU DOWN? YEAH! ME TOO.
It’s 4:30 PM in Washington, DC, and it’s Christmas Eve. I’ve just finished preps for dinner since my daughter and her fiancé are due later on. Seeing my daughter (especially with her Scottish fiancé which might mean grandchildren in the near future!) always makes me happy. I guess it’s that “thing” between fathers and daughters and the affection that always runs between us. But, I have to admit, I’m no longer a fan of the “Holiday Season” with all its hype and hoopla and Christmas music assaulting the ears from Thanksgiving Day onwards. My daughter is all grown up now and has been for over a decade so Christmas doesn’t mean quite the same to me as it used to. Not that I’m despondent or suicidal or anything. No. But maybe a tad nostalgic and along with the nostalgia the realization that I miss the rituals that accompanied those past celebrations.
Rituals like first untangling those damned cheap strings of lights (made in China) and then spending hours trying to figure out which one of those little sucker bulbs was causing the 100 light string to remain dark. This was before the grand improvement Chinese manufacturers made to rectify that irritating-as-all-hell situation. Then, for a period of about fourteen years, my daughter and I strung those puppies from the railings of the three balconies on the front of our house. Now when the temperature was above freezing – after all it was DC so it could be 65 degrees or 15 degrees below zero around Christmas time – the light stringing ritual was just great fun. But most of the times (if my on-again, off-again, memory serves me correctly) it was colder than hell with the wind kicking in at 45 mph accompanied by a freezing rain the day we decided to finally decorate the house for Christmas. And, given the way we did things in our house, it was usually do or die time. You know, like the day before Christmas Eve. After two or three hours twisting and winding the Chinese made light strings – we only used the clear bulb variety: no multi-colored bulbs for us trend-setters – through the uprights and along the tops of the railings you could hear me cussing all the way down to the corner of Kalorama Road and Connecticut Avenue. And you couldn’t wear gloves for this operation – too much twisting, turning and threading - so my hands and fingers, as were those of my daughter – wound up being frozen solid by the time we were finished. I have to say, though, that it did look nice.
Another fond Christmas memory of mine? The year that I just knew my daughter at the age of seven was longing for – pining for might be a more accurate description - a Lionel “O Gage” train set just like the one I had when I was a kid. I was so sure that she would be thrilled at this super gift just as much as I was at her age and would insist that it run around the Christmas tree in the living room every single year. Well I was wrong on that one as it turned out. (You could have guessed, but not me.) But I made sure that “her” precious gift circled the Christmas tree every year even though she paid about as much attention to it as she did to the political situation in the Soviet Union.
So as I sit here typing away on my computer rather than wrestling with piles of boxes containing innumerable presents yet to be wrapped, mounds of wrapping paper and that flimsy white tissue paper spread across the floor, scotch tape stuck to each and every one of my ten digits, today I am calm. I am not stressed. I didn’t even hear my first Christmas song until yesterday having avoided the radio stations except for NPR and skipping any store that played these tunes on their speaker systems. I have to admit though, no matter how reluctantly, that occasionally I do miss those frenetic times past when I would collapse into bed at 1:30 AM Christmas morning knowing that my daughter would be waking me up in a few hours. Yes. I do miss that.
PS: Went to see the Washington Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” last night and kept comparing the sets – very modern – to those I remember from about 20 years ago- much more traditional. The last time I saw the “The Nutcracker” was with my daughter. I think she was thirteen.
PPS: Would it be too much to ask that Santa Claus leave coals or- my preference - fresh dog turds in all the Tea Bagger types stockings this Christmas? Maybe that might get the message through to their hoary little pea brains.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY HANUKKAH! HAPPY KWANZA! AND MY PERSONAL BLESSINGS TO EVERYONE ELSE THAT CHRISTMAS, HANUKKAH AND KWANZA DON’T COVER!