About ten minutes ago I happily shouted, “It’s a wrap!”
No, I’m not directing a major feature film (more’s the pity). I’ve just finished wrapping up, boxing up and mailing holiday gifts for friends and family who live- -somewhere else.
I’m a Christmas Expat, 300 snowy miles away from my hometown. Even when I lived there I showed Christmas Expat tendencies, starting as a child. How many kids do you know who fake being sick to avoid a big family celebration that involves eating their fill of candy and receiving lots of wonderful gifts, direct from a dog-eared copy of the Sears catalog? You’re right, that was a half-century ago. Ouch! Did I really say that?
Things haven’t changed much since then. I still get edgy in rooms filled with bright lights, lots of rich food and seasonal decorations that swamp the furniture. Where’s the exit? How soon can we leave? About the only time a Christmas party works for me is if I have a job to do. Performing? Fine. Washing the dishes? I’m your gal. But just, well, celebrating? I’m pretty sure it’s missing from my DNA. At parties, after the first rush of greetings I usually end up in the quietest spot available, talking with the two other quiet invitees. This tendency deepened when I was married to someone who was very outgoing and liked to tell stories that involved waving his arms around. When he was in full party mode and didn’t realize I was standing next to him until he inadvertently hit me while making a broad, comic gesture, it gave me pause.
Okay, that’s an entirely different story. Back to Christmas. It’s not that I have anything against it, it’s just that it always sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun but instead ends up being like too much rich dessert. Is there anyone else out there who feels holiday-logged and sluggish after a relentless stream of holiday events, shopping, music and the rest of it? My idea of a cool holiday would be one where we all got to be quiet and reflective. I’d probably enjoy celebrating Yom Kippur, which happens in the fall and involves fasting and atonement. In the winter, I’m as happy as anybody else to contemplate the return of daylight, and Solstice celebrants don’t seem prone to commercial overload. It’s dark now. It won’t be as dark tomorrow. Not a lot of merchandising opportunities, unless you sell candles or light bulbs.
If you were in the same room with me now, you could observe that my tongue is only slightly in my cheek. When I buy and send gifts, I truly hope that they will be enjoyed and useful. I worry about humanity, and it bums me out that the global economy is fueled by ever-increasing consumption. Kind of ironic for someone who jumps around saying buy my books whenever the opportunity arises, but there you have it. The best gift I sent this year: a flock of chicks to a Third World family in need (through Heifer International). This was done in honor of someone near and dear who said don’t do anything extravagant regarding her Christmas gift. I hope she likes it as much as I do.
Best to you, yours and the holidays you choose to observe.
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