When I was little, around this time of year, I would turn my attention to Christmas. Perhaps I’ve mentioned before how completely enamored and obsessed I can get with Christmas? I’m not saying I’m not a little crazy about Christmas now…but I was a lot crazy then. I blame part of this on the boredom that accompanied my not being in school during the summer months. I was always thinking of things I could be doing to prepare for the holidays. One of my favorite activities, and my childhood friends can attest to this, was to play Christmas albums preferably by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, or Fred Waring and his singers, and I’d record myself singing along. I was making these cassette tape masterpieces as Christmas gifts for my grandparents. Because…obviously…what grandparent WOULDN’T want to hear their grandchild sing along with an album on a grainy sounding cassette tape?!
I started on my own Christmas list in the summer also. It would have been a shame to forget all of the magnificent toys that are released in summer by waiting to start my list until Fall. The real list action always began after we’d received the several-inches-thick Sears catalogue in the Fall but I always started a preliminary list around July to be safe.
I listened to carols, made gifts, brainstormed my list, and forced my friends to participate. Which…ahem…I’m sure they LOVED.
When my mom met my step-dad he made a crazy new rule. No Christmas music or movies before Thanksgiving. I thought this was incredibly ridiculous. And unfair. And cruel. However would I make Christmas gifts or practice songs or get in the mood??? But…he redeemed himself by becoming a real-life Clark Griswold. The man rented a cherry-picker to hang lights on the tip tops of our very very tall pine trees. Each year he outdid himself with Christmas light displays that would swiftly put any attempts by neighbors to shame.
I’m now 36 years old. My record player is somewhere in storage. I don’t even have a tape recorder anymore. And I’m sane enough to realize that starting a list in July…one on paper anyway…would be a little nuts. But something about the last few days…I am TOTALLY THERE in my mind. On Saturday, the sun hung just so, and it made me feel like it was one of those cold sunny winter days…and I imagined my home smelling like cookies, and cinnamon, and gingerbread. And I imagined being surrounded by fluffy white snow. And I felt so joyful…as I do during the holidays…about being able to find the perfect gifts for those that I love and call my own. And I wanted to listen to Christmas carols. And I wanted to shop. And bake. And chop Christmas trees. And decorate.
In a past post I mentioned that Christmas is a really big deal for me. My husband and I, having struggled through some very difficult years, never had the kind of Christmas I expected to have with my very own family. Not until this past Christmas when finally…FINALLY…we had a lovely, festive, wonderful Christmas. One complete with Christmas gift shopping outings that were so much fun, a fabulous visit with Santa, a great Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, and a relaxing and amazing Christmas Day with mine. It was the first time in years that I felt like my real life Christmas matched-up to the Christmas fantasies that swirl through my mind. Six months out of the year.
This past weekend as my thoughts returned to Christmas I realized that this year will be a bit different. We won’t have our little girls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year. We’ll have to figure out how to have a magical Christmas with them the few days prior. Then we’ll enjoy our own Christmas with our families. It will take planning and compromise…I’m not a huge fan of compromise. I really do like everything to be just so. And by “just so” I mean exactly the way I want it and the way I think it should be. I want to have another magical holiday this year and I know that my little girls being gone threatens to, in my mind at least, jeopardize that. I’m well aware that I can sabotage our holidays by being sad about not having the little girls. It will be up to me to be sure we make it a magical holiday regardless of whether it happens “just so.”
As I walked through my office today the sunlight coming in again reminded me of crisp December days. The Christmas mode that I’m in, however, will only last a little while longer. Then I’ll happily return to summer. For now, though, I’m going to start to brainstorm ways to make this our best Christmas yet. And I might sneak some carols while driving in my car alone. As I see it…there is never a bad time for Bing Crosby.
TODAY: What if, since I won’t be making any original recordings of Christmas songs with Bing, Frank, or Fred, I use my thoughts of Christmas to change what it will look like this year? What if simply having a different kind of Christmas can make it even more magical?