Monday, December 20, 2010
I was an equal opportunity Scrooge. For several years, I banned Jesus, Santa, snowmen, trees, lights, blow-up polar bears, snowglobes, ugly sweaters and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." The year MY grandmother died, I thought, "Keep it." Keep the absence. Keep the sadness. Keep away the rift that developed in the remaining family members. Keep the loneliness. Keep it all.
But THIS Christmas is different. I feel a bit of a buzz. A high. I feel light-hearted and smiley and able to propel myself through crowds I'd normally shun. I dig deep in my pockets for change to give the Salvation Army bell ringer. I open doors for people whose arms are filled with consumerism. I don't automatically change the channel if I catch a whiff of Charlie Brown and his sad little tree or a little boy wanting a bb gun or some little twit talking about angels getting their wings.
It's the sort of thing that makes me want to wrap cardboard boxes with Christmas wrap and then fill those boxes with loads of homemade baked goods a la my grandmother's tradition. I won't go so far as to say that sugarplums are dancing in my head, but I'm teaching and grading and buried in paperwork, yet also salivating over the idea of peanut brittle and peanut butter fudge and pillowy clouds of divinity and sugar cookies and, and, and...hoping the notes I'm writing on students' papers won't look like recipes.
It's the sort of thing that makes me want to shop. It's the sort of thing that's making me MAKE my own goddamned wrapping paper. I bought a stocking for the cat, and I'm SEWING his stocking out of old jeans. A few times I've caught myself humming the normally annoying soundtrack to the season.
And when My Guy returned from his trip back East and admitted that he kind of hoped that I would have surprised him by decorating his apartment for the upcoming holiday, I realized I was a true Christmas sap because I had considered doing so, despite his self-labeled Atheist.
Don't judge. Atheists can have other reasons for the season. Perhaps he misses family Christmas. Or perhaps it's just another step in this thing called US. And I'm down with that. So there I was digging through my storage unit for a faux tree and decorations. Eventually, I found it: box warped with age, broken open at the bottom, cobwebby. Perfect.
And this is how Christmas threw up at Mike's (cue sitcom laugh track):
He held the cat (currently an escape artist because she's randy--due to be spayed and thus wanting to get out and get some tail--or get her tail gotten, I guess) while I maneuvered a 3 foot long box with its contents spilling out...inside his small apartment. And then it turned out that 2 of the 3 feet on the tree were missing. Apparently, they'd dropped somewhere between the storage unit and Moscow.
We had discussed the idea of a real tree but had "exnayed" the idea for two reasons: 1) I'm a semi-serious tree hugger who likes the smell of a real tree when the tree is planted in a forest but not the idea of killing and wasting a tree for a month of our own satisfaction and 2) we feared the aforementioned escape artist, crazy-with-sexual-energy kitty would climb it, chew it, topple it, etc.
So with no option to go out and buy a real tree and with being too stubborn to consider my faux tree crippled with one of three legs, I went into engineering, make-do mode. I brought out My Guy's mop bucket, tossed in the tree, some books I'd gotten from the recycling bin to weight the tree down, and filled in the other areas with bubble wrap. I then covered the non-festive bucket with festive tablecloths.
Did I mention we decided to put the tree on the kitchen table? (SEE hormone-crazed cat section above)
Did I also mention that the faux tree is comprised of 3 sections, but we were only able to use 2 sections before the tip of the tree hit the ceiling?
Did I mention that tree section A didn't fit properly into tree section C and thus required some sort of security measure for which My Guy offered up SCOTCH TAPE? He did. And of course I had to tease my football-watching, chest pounding, macho man club member for not having any MAN TAPE i.e. duct tape. [Epilogue: he came home the next day with man tape, as I had immasculated him with my joking.]!
Did I mention that I have apparently entered into a new writing phase in which I (sometimes randomly) emphasize certain words by typing them all in uppercase letters? IT'S THE EQUIVALENT TO YELLING, YOU KNOW!
So I decorated the tree with a new set of LED lights, which My Guy pronounced as "trippy." And they are. They are piercing and annoying as the newer cars you meet on the highways who have the NEWER, BETTER headlights...the ones that blind you and make you sick to your stomach and trigger Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (or treat PTSD) with their white hot lights. And then I hung the blue balls, the balls with harbingers of peace (a.k.a doves), bears with log legs and pine cones for feet, a football, a panda bear with a basketball, a snowman just chillin, African American angels. You know. Standard Christmas Decorations. And then the moment came when I placed the topper on. The topper sort of resembles a gingerbread cookie star. And the whole thing nearly toppled under the weight. So no gingerbread cookie star.
My Guy came home later with a lighter topper, which he ceremoniously placed atop the tree. He turned off the lights and commanded me to do the honors of plugging the topper in.
His brand-new topper didn't work. He said a Christmas curse, which is like a Christmas carol, only with a different sound than Fa-la-la-la-la-la. I took out and replaced every bulb in the topper and then plugged it in. And it shone with all the pomp and circumstance of the star of Bethlehem. And there was no manger, no crib for a bed, but there we were in My Guy's crib, chillin', looking at this little tree.
And at that very moment, I looked down and I swear there was a puddle beneath my feet. Hello metaphor! Yes, this man has taken December and warmed it. He had thawed this heart...Shut up!
I can say it. If Frank Capra can have It's a Wonderful Life, I can too.
Well, maybe a Decent Life.
A Pretty Good Life.
A Partly-Cloudy Life with a Chance of Wonderful.