Thursday, December 15, 2005

High-Maintenance (Holiday) Woman

At first it was satisfying to spend so much time at the new house. Working means sitting in front of a computer screen all day, manipulating images and words or talking to people about schedules and travel. It felt great to get off my butt, climb on a latter and sling some pain on the wall. It even felt good to come home tired, but day after day of it is wearing me down. We took a break last night to get some things done and go Christmas shopping, and now I don't know that I can be motivated to tape and roll. Not that any of this matters, mind you, because the walls have to be blue before I can plunk my desk in front of them and set up shop, so I'll keep plugging along.

I guess the taste of festivity in last night's shopping also reminded me of a sad truth: the holidays just haven't come together for me since we got married and left home. I never realized how long it took to accumulate all the trappings of the Yule season until I had a lonely little tree with no ornaments on it except those of my husband because the few I owned hadn't made it from my parent's house yet. I put up a wreath on our door, but it was so simple and plain and it seemed a pale reflection of the one my mother redecorated so lovingly most years. We spent last Christmas at their house, so it wasn't like I missed my family during Christmas, but I missed the build-up, really "The Season of Christmas." This year we're celebrating with Hubster's family, as is only fair, and I'm sure it will be fun and I can't wait to see how elaborate their oft-mentioned traditions turn out to be, but I still miss Christmas, even as I anticipate it.

I recently read someone say that no one quite likes a holiday unless it's done just like it was when they were growing up. I'm sure there are some who have family tragedies or pain associated with the days, so that might not be true, but I do miss the Christmas I always knew. Everyone told us before we got married that we would form our own traditions and grow to love them, but it's hard not to pine for Christmas Eve candlelight services with solemn liturgy and riotous Picada feasts as soon as we hauled our hungry bellies home. It's hard to not to remember begging Dad to let us open one gift that evening, even though he almost never caved, or anticipating Christmas morning cinnamon rolls and eggnog and Vernors (don't you laugh, sitting there in judgment - you don't know what you're missing). It's even harder to miss the Advent church traditions, singing carols in worship, and the huge ordeal of hauling the giant fake tree out of the attic and decking it out with ornaments whose shape I know so well, like friends who only rarely visit but without whom the year is not complete.

Our tiny tree is up in the living room, but there's nothing on it. The house is so important, so pressing, that we've spent all our time in it's empty rooms, hoping to work our magic so that when the Christmas season is finally over we can move our stuff in for good and start the new year right. I understand why it's happening, but I still don't like that the season is being interrupted. Perhaps its my idealistic/melancholic side that dictates it but I hold festival and ceremony in high regard. It is deeply affirming to me to experience the rituals of life - from the simple ones like morning tea or coffee to the elaborate customs of Christmas. I count down to my birthday (once I'm suitably close to the date that I don't feel like a total seven-year-old, so two months out ;) and I guess I should stop apologizing for that because it's not really changing over time.

The problem that I face once I realize that all this brouhaha is important to me is that it is now my responsibility to act and change the situation. My Dad isn't around anymore to poo-poo the idea of opening one gift on Christmas Eve and my mother doesn't really care if I swath my tree in coordinated colors or mismatching, homemade ornaments. And it may only be up for a week before we're off to celebrate elsewhere, but I think I'll decorate the tree anyway. Staying up for that will make me happy to be tired.


B said...

My darling Rica! I totally feel your pain. I love my new casa, but it totally lacks Christmas cheer. The spot that next year will hold a tree covered in mismatched ornaments that hold a special place in my heart, is currently cluttered with boxes of unpacked junk! And while i will have the luxury of enjoying my traditional chocolate chip pancake breakfast after opening presents on Christmas morning with my family, the rest of the day i will spend more time in the car traveling to various families than actually with family. What happened to the happiest time of year?

Plankiest said...

If it makes you feel better....
I miss being home with my family for Christmas traditions. But my mom doesn't! ;)
I always joked that we were not going to put the bottom branches on the tree this year because the extra room will be needed for all of my presents. While my dad and I found this joke endlessly amusing, mom did not. This year she gets to decorate the tree in peace!

CharlesPeirce said...

e, I completely know what you mean. No matter what I do, I just can't recapture those...FEELINGS. I'm open to suggestions about what to do. Going through the motions--IE, the trappings without the corresponding emotions--has helped some.