Now that Thanksgiving is over, there is nothing standing between us and Christmas (well, there’s Yule, but nobody pays attention to that unless they’re pagan or British.)
For those of you who are fortunate enough not to have spent Christmas around me before, I am a TOTAL grinch and I will forbid people from playing Christmas jams around me until Yule If I have my way. I usually don’t, and this usually makes me cranky. Christmas for me has historically been a commercial-ridden, food-coloring stained, sockfest of Bing Crosby terrible. This is because Christmas is around the time my seasonal depression hits its low point. I start the morning upstairs at my parents’, which is cold and has my step-brother running the evil terrier up and down the stairs in an effort to wake up our folks so that he can see how many expensive electronics he’s gotten that year. I then proceed to find three pairs of holiday socks in my loot (which I will cut the bells off of later,) something practical for the house, and books I will mostly read at spring break, as I will not have time to finish them before the school quarter begins. Don’t get me wrong; I love my books, I love my parents, and I like getting presents. It’s everything else attached to Christmas (which in a non-Christian family loses most of its meaning) that gets to me.
This year is a little different.
The evil terrier now rests in peace after fourteen long years of neurotic doggy hyperactivity (I’ll admit I kind of miss it. My dad does too. He nearly repaced it with some variety of hound that would have landed him a noise complaint and possibly a divorce. He thought better about it, though.)
My step-brother is stationed in Italy and will be either on-base or at his in-laws.
My parents are going to LaPush for a romantic getaway, thus releasing me from my usual familial obligation. I imagine I will wind up hauling Uji out to my Gramma’s farmhouse on Christmas Eve, or thereabouts (My Gramma loves Uji and drops hints about grandchildren occasionally.) and generally attempting to avoid the Guide Meridian otherwise.
This year, I’ll be joining Uji’s family for Christmas.
To paint a picture, Uji’s mom starts decorating the day after Thnaksgiving. She listens to Celine Dion in the kitchen, and the Hallmark channel is her standby television programming all day.
GRINCHINESS IS OUT OF THE QUESTION.
Uji is nearly as excited. He’s planning where to put the tree (dear God; I’m going to have a full-sized Christmas tree in my own home for the first time since I was a teenager) and he forced me to write a Christmas list.
In light of that, I’ve decided that resistance is futile and I bought him glass icicles from the farmer’s market for a surprise, have learned to make pumpkin cheesecake, and have started a spreadsheet for gift-giving.
What the hell. Why the hell not.
What I will NOT be doing is spending half my savings at some door-buster sale, or paying for anything other than a traffic ticket online until midnight tonight.
Instead, I’m going to try and make stuff, and I’m doing as much of my shopping as possible at small businesses–not just to stimulate the local economy, oh no; I have a much more selfish motive.
Avoiding the mall.
I’ve also consented to going to church on Christmas, which is something I haven’t done regularly since my Grandpa Dave was alive. He sang in the choir of the First Presbyterian in Austin and my Uncle Cris and I would sit in the back row and play with the candles.
The last time I went to church on Christmas was with my Granny when I went to Texas a few years back. It was the first time I’ve ever been in a Baptist church, and it was with extended family that I haven’t seen in decades. The pastor had dental veneers and a tan, my second cousin Sam (also a pastor) sang all the hymns at a Pavarotti volume, and my Uncle Cris and I still played with the candles.
Uji’s family is Catholic, which means better music, a prettier church, and without the bad influence of my Uncle Cris, better behavior out of me. Omi is also Catholic and I’ve been to Mass with her before. In spite of the bad blood between Rome and the appropriated remnants of the old ways that fall under the blanket label of modern paganism, I’m actually WAY more comfortable in a Catholic church than a Protestant one. Maybe it’s the ritual, maybe it’s the age of the faith, maybe it’s the acknowledgement of Mother Mary, but something puts it bizzarely close to how I was raised. My Uncle Lee jokes that people who call themselves bad Catholics are usually just good pagans. My experience is that people who call themselve bad Catholics are generally good people, great drinking buddies, and better Catholics than they imagine.
Either way, this year I’m pouring out the milk and honey for the new sun at Yule and celebrating the birth of Christ.
And I’m not allowed to be a Grinch about it.