I can be a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. I have the typical complaints about shopping and crowded streets, but most of all I don’t like the break in my routine. I haven’t written much here or in my novel lately because I’ve been busy—gasp—socializing. As in, real life real time real people interaction, flesh and blood and all that. Also, I travelled to Oklahoma twice in the past month and got sick in-between, so I haven’t exercised in forever. But hey, that extra blubber is part of what makes the holidays feel so warm.
Also, I’m not a Christian, but since this holiday has been hijacked long ago by secular forces, I don’t feel compelled to abstain from it. I don’t celebrate Easter because I do believe Jesus is the reason for that season, for the most part.
So enough preamble. I’d like to share with you my favorite things about this holiday. Let’s begin the countdown:
12. Playing the Nutcracker for five minutes. Then I get sick of it, but those five minutes are kind of okay. My brother’s wife once forced him to see it, and he complained that he would rather have his balls nailed to a wall than watch that again. Nutcracker indeed. I, however, am a little bit more tolerant. Five minutes.
11. New ornament. Each year I buy a new ornament and label it with the year. Some of them have been relevant to the theme of that year, others are just last-minute buys. This year’s is a pig that I thought was a javelina, but who knows:
10. Re-reading last year’s Christmas cards. I save them each year for making my list for next year. This year I’m on top of things—I saved the envelopes too so that I have the addresses. You’d think I would have come up with this brilliant idea long ago, but I’m slow on the uptake.
9. Ridiculous Christmas clothing. The star at the top lights up. Oh yes it does. And I wear it in public. I also have a pair of panties that says, “Be naughty, save Santa the trip.” Oh yes it does.
8. Giving gifts. I don’t really like this part because of all the usual reasons, but it forces me to think about all the people in my life. There’s a big part of me that wants to give a random gift at some other time in the year instead, but I haven’t done it.
7. Rain. We don’t get much of it, which is why I love it. At this time of year in Tucson we get a nice all-day rain from time to time. Yeah, I know. Those of you from cold climates hate me now.
6. Christmas night lights.
5. Christmas lights. We don’t get into the decor like we used to. My husband is the only one who will get up on a ladder, but he has had vertigo recently. So we did the most half-assed job because after he wobbled a little bit, I demanded in a semi-hysterical suburban housewife voice that he get down from the ladder. Last year he put up the lights while I was away in Oklahoma, and he fell. Luckily he didn’t fall into a cholla and he came away with a few scraps, but nothing serious. Still, I’ve been hounding him to let it go, let it go. While it’s not worth spending the holidays in the hospital, I have to admit I like that little bit of shine coming in through the kitchen window.
4. Sweaters. And I’m not even talking about Christmas sweaters, which I would wear if I had one (see Christmas t-shirt above). I hardly ever get to wear sweaters, and I just love them. Here in the desert, there’s a small window of opportunity, so I grab it.
3. Challah bread. What? I know, it makes no sense. Nevertheless, it looks so festive and I don’t care that I’m mixing things up. Besides, my husband’s Jewish, and so was Jesus, so I figure it kind of works. I love the whole process of making this bread, especially the braiding.
2. Las Posadas. I’m going tonight! This is hands down the best Christmas celebration ever. I hardly know the woman who invited me to this beautiful fete because I usually get the invite from a woman in my writing group and we tag along with her. This year, my friend is out of town, but the hostess tracked me down to give me the invite. Now I feel super special. Her graciousness makes me get a little misty eyed. How many people would track down a stranger to invite them to a party? Merry Christmas indeed! I can’t wait to get to know her better.
For this Posada we all meet and follow a procession house to house while carrying candles and singing “Feliz Navidad.” It’s led by a live mariachi band! I love trying to sing in Spanish, listening to the Mexicans to get the pronunciation right while following along on a printout.
And then we end up at the host’s house to finish the evening over tamales and her special concoction:
I have no idea what’s in here, but it’s delicious. The kids then knock around a piñata and we all get hammered while we listen to the mariachi band.
1. Christmas tree. I never had a real one growing up, so this always feels special. I love the scent filling up the house, the magic of it. I even love the struggle to get it on top of the car (we put it in a junky sleeping bag to keep it from scratching the paint) and then pissing everyone off as we drive 25 MPH all the way home. :
What are your favorite holiday traditions? And/or what are your least favorite?