Lights Please.

"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed." - Charlie Brown, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

I spent the evening putting ribbons and bows on chocolate oranges for my friends, watching a few hours of the copious amounts of professional wrestling which has been on television this week [...strange, though I'm sure it can't hurt to channel some seasonal hostility into a few fake fights on free TV]. I've done a lot this Christmas, more decorating than usual, more gifts purchased... I've wrapped so many things, spent so many hours on etsy looking for x or y, debating whether or not the gifts I were giving said more about me, than the people I was getting them for. When it comes to gifts, I suppose, there should always be a little bit of both, though definitely more the latter -- though, I guess if it were all of the latter, that would be better. More selfless. But I like to sign my work.

The point? Oh, right, the point. I think, now just a day to go, it finally hit me, that the holidays are here, that Christmas will not be put off another moment. I've been pushing it now and again this year -- all the activity, maybe my heart hasn't been completely in it. But it's easy to disregard that, when I think about what it means to other people, having those little moments which just so... completely personify the season.

All of my ideas of the season are... antiquated, almost. There's that scene from "A Christmas Carol," at Mr. Fezziwig's ball, which is just a little too... Victorian for me to ever actually experience, and meanwhile, my Belle... well, I could not hold on to her. Then there are things, little madnesses, like being in a horse-drawn carriage with someone I love, if not Belle, than a Belle [if there can ever be two] "through the snow" bundled too tightly and sitting too close, for reasons that have nothing to do with frostbite, elegant parties at grandiose houses with people you hardly know and too much alcohol served around too many candles. That last one, especially, I held onto a little too tightly, going so far as to entertain crashing someone else's event, after recruiting a partner adept at playing the mouth harp, purchasing the nicest wreath [and bottle of rum] I could find, donning Santa hats, and just knocking on the front door.

I still contend that could work. But duplicitous plots and Christmas don't exactly go hand in hand. Nor have I ever found a partner so willing or self-assured to back me up on that [plus, the need for a partner in this particular crime is based on the possibly erroneous assumption that people are less likely to call the cops if there's two of you].

And family. Everyone together, and festive, and always a few people you don't know, one-part renewing old acquaintances, mostly that, but also another, small part of feeling like you're hunkering down, in greater numbers, from the weather outside. Which, if you haven't heard, would be ideally frightful.

But I don't think, and pardon me for saying this about a holiday with "Christ" right in the name, that this is a time when we should be all that beholden to our own, personal dogmas. I think again, to those high-minded ideals of the season that I have, and the feelings they stir in me just by thinking of them, and even having never really achieved on, I have scratched the surface of those feelings -- seeing "Mary" at the theatre, sitting middle row and not cold, but not so warm I couldn't wear my coat and scarf throughout, or sitting in a room that seemed to have no point or function in Sara's house, opening a VHS copy of Clerks I did not expect to receive. Reading comics in my dad's living room at... seven or eight, having him explain to me again about how, since they both worked at night, he could talk to Santa and get the presents I was getting at his house the night before Christmas, and how that was no problem at all.

Those all didn't quite fit my ideal, but they got close, so close as to scratch the surface and release a kind of warmth, that mimicked what I think I'd feel if I got Christmas all the other ways I got it. And when it comes to everyone else, I imagine their ideals for the season are just as unreachable and impossible as my own [maybe not? Who can say?], but doing something small, to get them close to that, to make that scratch... I can do that. I can put my own baggage down long enough to hand them a gift, to tell them a story. Or just listen to one of theirs. "Here, have a drink, some eggnog, some cider, maybe something stronger... and there's candy, but not too much, because there's dinner later." Yeah. If I can find a way to get someone something that makes them feel even a little bit like that, let them have that reminder of a time, or a place that was ideal. Or one they think would be.

Right now, I'm capitalizing, enjoying a bunch of Christmas specials, doing what I tend to do, remarking on things I probably never appreciated as a kid, that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" debuted in 1965. That even after growing up with the characters, the appearance of the Sesame Street gang during a "Muppet Family Christmas" looks vaguely Lord of the Rings-esque, Bert and Ernie descending on Ma Bear's house with a dracula, a cadre of monsters, and a giant bird in tow. And just marveling at how vibrant and... well, actually animated "Mickey's Christmas Carol" looks, with painted background but books bouncing and chains getting caught on something, and then you realize it was made in 1983 and you can't help but wonder why more cartoons don't look better now.

I mean, if you're like me, a grown man who still watches cartoons [if you're not, I'm surprised, though pleasantly because I'd think the previous demographic might be one of the only I appeal to].

Other movies are on the horizon too: Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, and Die Hard [for the second time!], and hell, I may even work one of the Home Alone's into the rotation. Only out of respect, of course, for our recently departed. Gremlins, could happen, and I have a deep need to see The Ref as well. And yes, I realize, hitting this stride with only two days to really enjoy it seems a bit crazy, a bit crunched for time, but hey... it's not like I have any other plans for Christmas anyway.

Don't know if I'll post again before the big day. So, to everyone reading, if anyone is, have a wonderful holiday. Appreciate that which you have, and those who you have close, not because some have less, or none, or no one, but just because you do. And if you don't, if you are without or alone this time of year... then get smashed, or turn on "PeeWee's Christmas Special," or one of the "Rugrats" cartoons about Hanukkah [some of the best modern holiday specials in my opinion]. Or something else, something you like, that makes you happy, that reminds you of what time of year it is, and will make it better, or special to you.

Me? Sometimes I just listen to The Clash's "London Calling."

I'm not kidding.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

5 comments :: Lights Please.

  1. We collect a lot of dead skin from Christmases past and try to wear it, pretending it can still cover us with childhood wonder, but I think you're pretty creative just to have all those options of things to do. Who are we measuring ourselves against anyway? If I'm going to have a blue Christmas, I'll really enjoy all its shades. We can't always paint things red.

  2. Where do keep the skin the rest of the year?

    "Who are we measuring ourselves against anyway?" Yes. Yes, I quite like that.

  3. You might have seen this already, but here's a holiday classic for you.

    Rare Exports

    Hope you had a nice holiday!

  4. "The need for a partner in this particular crime is based on the possibly erroneous assumption that people are less likely to call the cops if there's two of you."

    I LOLed.

    And, for the record, I don't think there's anything wrong with hanging on to nostalgic or idealized holiday dreams, since that's what keeps the holidays alive.

  5. @Jessie - There... are... no... words. Outstanding. Hope you had a wonderful holiday too!

    @Ian - Yeah, I agree 100%. But I also know how idealized things can dampen things that would otherwise be, you know... just good, so I always try to keep that in mind. But I like your way better.