If all the 24 hour Holiday music stations, every dirty Santa suit clad Salvation Army Bell Ringer set up in front of every Target, shopping center entrance, post office, and strip mall, every annoyingly polite pimply-faced Boy Scout Troop camped outside my neighborhood mini-mart badgering me to buy one of their crappy $17 merit badge Christmas wreaths and every Dunkin Donut clerk who half-heartedly asks if I want to donate a $1 to support some charity then insists I write my name in Black Sharpy on a piece of yellow paper shaped like a star so that it can be hung with the rest of the stars and I do it when I all I really wanted was a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Blueberry cake donut… if all these sources are to be believed… this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Not to go Charles Shulz on you, unless that’s the type of thing that turns you on – I believe it’s called a Peanuts Shower, but for as much as I love this time of year, and it really is my favorite time of the year, it’s the hyper-commercialism, manic-consumerism and the seasonal opportunists that make it impossible for me to appreciate the Holiday season outside the walls of our house and that have gradually hallowed out the spirit of Christmas from inside me.
What are my options though? Leap onto the nearest high school auditorium stage, murmur “Lights, please” and answer ol’ Chuck’s pragmatic “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” with a poignant Biblical verse or maybe just harness a dog dressed like a reindeer to a sleigh and scale Mt. Crumpet to let my heart grow three-sizes and remind the world that “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Christmas perhaps means a little bit more”? Sounds ambitious, futile and highly unlikely considering I traditionally procrastinate and wait to do my Christmas shopping until the last possible second. And given that it’s a certainty that I’ll be sprinting madly through the aisles of a Big Box anchor store on Christmas Eve frantically searching for that last gift while aggravated employees wait impatiently near the entrance eager to lock the doors the chance that I’m going to teach the world the true meaning of Christmas is about as likely as me carving the Roast Beast at the Whos Christmas Feast.
Yet even though I feel more imprisoned than a male escort in Boy George’s London Flat by the marketing, the materialism and the demoralizing perversion of the holiday I found I may have the ultimate defense against a season that seems to really want to hurt me, that seems to really want to make me cry and it is
Romana Sambuca my son Jack who still believes in Santa Claus, the magic of Christmas and that Zombies are hiding in our upstairs bathroom when he has to use it by himself during dinner. The first two being the reasons why, in contradiction with my long-held No Decorations Before December Edict, when Jack asked for me to lug the Christmas decorations down from the attic the day after Thanksgiving I merrily obliged. The latter being the reason I allow Jack to carry a rolling pin to the bathroom with him when he goes alone.
So on Friday evening Jack and I sat next to our box of Christmas Decorations gently unwrapping each wooden Santa Claus statue, each ceramic snowman candle holder, each shepherd and wise man bearing gifts like archaeologists discovering a Pharaoh’s treasure. After each piece was removed from it’s swaddling of last year’s newspaper and plastic shopping bags Jack would direct me to which shelf, door molding or widow ledge he wanted the piece to go on.
Above the entrance into the foyer from the living room now stands a delegation of Santa’s from various countries book-ended by painted plywood snowmen. Above the entrance to the dining room are two snowman families and two hinged signs one that says Christmas and one that says Wnter (we noticed last year it was missing the letter I. No wonder it was on sale) Each window now displays a wooden wreath or other hanging accoutrement and we didn’t even set up the Nativity Scene and the Department 56 Christmas Village Display yet.
Then last night while Jack was lying on the couch next to me A Charlie Brown Christmas came on TV and just as Charlie Brown left the play rehearsal with Linus to buy a Christmas tree, carrying with him the expectation that he should choose big, shiny aluminum one, Jack’s drowsy eyes submitted to the gravity of a five year old’s day and he fell asleep. While Charlie Brown and Linus wandered the artificial forest to the jazz of the Vince Guaraldi Trio tapping the multicolor metal hollow trees I looked up around the room at Jack’s council of Christmas elders judging from their perches; it felt like they were tapping my cold surface with their stares and listening to the muffled echo resonating deep within me. Then when Charlie Brown rejects the artificiality of the season by selecting a real tree that is little more than a sprig, I looked down at my little sprig sleeping next to me.
He is a real tree in an artificial forest and I am the biggest, shiniest, hollowest aluminum tree on the lot. He is a symbol of the true spirit of Christmas, and I am a symbol of what happens when you stop believing.
Sleep little sprig. Dream of Christmas fast approaching. Tonight I too will dream of being chosen despite my coldness then carried from the lot. That someone wraps their blanket around my base for support then gives me the love that I need to be made real again.
Just like you.