Wednesday, December 26, 2007

christmas has left the building

I really do enjoy this time of year, this holiday: the choosing of deliberate little gifts for my children, the bringing out and remembering of favorite seasonal decorations, the music (okay, not all of the music, surely I've mentioned my dislike of all versions of Santa Baby and, well, nearly all santa songs make me groan, but I'm a sucker for a lot of the old traditional hymns; the "fall on your knees" line from O Holy Night gets me every time), but as much as I enjoy all of that, I like standing on the front steps and waving goodbye -see you next year!- even better.

Christmas can really overstay her welcome and has a tendency to linger around for days or weeks. I prefer that our farewells take place before we start resenting each other too much. Oh, there's a little of that already, even at the height of holiday joy, because, come on, she takes up a lot of space in my living room and instigates traffic jams, but I have my faults, too, and she mostly looks past them.

We had a lovely enough Christmas Day. Quiet, simple, sweet. The children were pleased with everything, the cinnamon rolls were perfect, I made our default favorite "spicy black bean pasta" for dinner. I couldn't have asked for a better day. Okay, so maybe if a curly-shoed fellow with pointy ears had stopped in with my elusive boots, that would have been better. Or if I could have produced a passel of other children for my children to play with, that would have been better. I'm not really serious about the boots, though, and my children have spent their whole lives (almost nine years and barely two, respectively) as the only kids more often than not (we are not close enough in distance and/or closeness to spend holidays, or hardly any days, with relatives and cousins and such. It's always just us) . It's just the way it is. And we have a comfortable little groove, we enjoy our easy days together. And even though I will admit that carrying the whole weight of tradition for my children is a heavy load, even though I let myself wonder sometimes what it would be like to hitch up my seasonal ennui* to the inertia created by other people's plans and considerations (because being busy can be a drag, but it can also be a darn swell distraction) and just coast along for a while, knowing that if i slub up and miss something, someone else will be there to pick up or add to or help out. Despite all of that, it was as good as it could have been.

So if you came to my house now you wouldn't see so much evidence of Christmas. After dinner we tackled the tree. The various and sundry other little decorative items, wrapped up and packed away. Everything is gone, save for the exterior lights, which the husband vows to take down tomorrow after work. I don't think we've ever gotten the house back to "normal" so quickly before. It wasn't my specific intention. But owing to the worst case of dry needles I've ever experienced with a cut tree (we suspect our radiant heat is the super-drying factor) and my refusal to sweep up or vacuum one more time, the only solution was to take the whole thing down. And once the tree goes, everything else follows easily. Gone.

The expecting is maybe the best part of Christmas, and once that's gone, once you take anticipation out of the equation, everything's a little less shiny, a little more dim, a lot less fun. It's a classic response to any special good time, the wistfulness of feeling like, gee, that was fast. Now what? In our case, we have no traditional precedence for the week between Christmas and New Year's. So it's business as usual (whatever that means) and we'll try again next year.

*oh dear, please add that word to my gossamer list. thanks. all future uses shall be irony-laden only


Deb said...

The post-Christmas slump makes me tired, just thinking about taking down everything and finding spots for all the new toys. It sounds like you had a sweet day, I'm glad.

Angelina said...

Dang it, I thought about asking your family over for some drinks but I was too lazy to track down your phone number and I suppose a part of me figured you guys had your own insular deal and would like to keep it that way. However, though I LOVE my Christmas not being overly hectic, I do like to see friends. They are usually engaged in their own private family traditions though. OH well.

Next year, would you be interested in stopping by for a beer or cup of tea or something with your loved ones in tow?

april. said...

the insular set-up is pretty sweet in the morning, all gathered around the tree, it's after that when sort of look around and twiddle our thumbs and go, uh, now what?

so, yes, angelina! we'd be totally into that!

Lisa said...

I always think of inviting my far-from-family friends over on holidays, but I always feel like I will be imposing on their traditions or previous plans. I was thinking of both your family and Angelina's family yesterday.

I have also thought about having an open house on Thanksgiving or Christmas afternoon for all of us that don't have family around or aren't emotionally close to family.

jess said...

along with milieu, ennui is one of the words daniel insists upon using whenever possible. he stumbles over their pronunciations as if he is as aware as i that his effort is completely ridiculous.