Only five? Five! I counted them again. And then I looked at the calendar. Couldn’t be! Only five days left until Christmas? It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating Thanksgiving, and every retail location I’ve been to since October has been booming with carols, ribbons, and red bows; they’ve been ready for months. But only five days?
At the risk of sounding like a made-for-t.v. Christmas movie protagonist, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas yet this year. Perhaps it’s the gloomy skies and rain, the “bah humbugs” all over the news and radio discussing the ever-growing naughty list, the lack of good old fashioned Christmas movies on cable, or maybe it’s the fact that I just haven’t been filled with the Christmas spirit this year. Touched, yes. But filled? I’ll admit things have been a bit different this year. No handmade Christmas cards. No cards at all, in fact. I haven’t spent hours in the kitchen rolling and flouring and tempering. No fudge, no candied pecans. No cookies…
I did spend hours stringing popcorn and cranberry garland for the tree this year, and as usual M and I put up ornaments while I pointed out my favorites, recalling where or when or why I received each one. M hung Christmas lights in our windows. I wrapped presents. I spent days making ornaments to send to family and friends. I watched a few pretty awful Christmas movies on tv (I’m surprised someone didn’t throw together a Christmas “bailout” movie – just wait until next year…), and I even sang a few carols in the shower or while cleaning up the kitchen.
I remember when I was a kid we used to have these wonderful family outings to pick out a Christmas tree. We’d all bundle up in coats, scarves, hats, and gloves and pile into the family Blazer, and my dad would drive the few miles to the Christmas tree farm next to the elementary school where my mom was a teacher. I remember walking in and out of the rows of trees, my brother and I always wanting a tree that was much too big for our living room. My dad would have a few ribbons that we’d use to stake out our favorites, then after checking the entire lot, we’d got back to the two or three that we had chosen and discuss the merits and drawbacks of each tree. When we came to a decision we’d all wait next to the tree (so someone else didn’t claim it!) and my dad would get the owner who would come out with his hand saw and cut the tree down. We’d pay for it and drag it back to the car and my dad would stuff it into the back of the Blazer and we’d complain and laugh about the prickly needles that were poking us on the drive home. Dad would put the tree into the stand (and lecture us about fire safety and making sure the tree had enough water) and he and my mom would string on the lights. My brother and I would hang the ornaments onto the tree (usually the bottom half) and my mom and dad would go through filling in the top of the tree and the areas where we left empty. We’d string icicles onto the ends of the branches and when the tree looked finished my dad would run and turn out the lights in the room so that the room was illuminated by just the lights of the tree and we could take it all in. I remember every year announcing that the tree was the most beautiful tree we’d ever had. They were always more beautiful and more perfect than the last. My mom would set up the nativity scene at the base of the tree, and on Christmas day the tree would be flanked on both sides with colorfully wrapped packages with big bows and cascading ribbon curls. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those childhood Christmases and re-live the love and joy of the season.
Next week will be filled with the usual hustle and bustle of Christmas – baking biscochitos, making luminaries for the driveway, delivering gifts, and spending time with friends and family. If I’m not filled with the Christmas spirit then…well, we’d really need a Christmas miracle, now wouldn’t we?