Anybody who knows me knows I'm somewhat of a humbug at Christmas. I'm not anti-holiday, I just get a little tired of the alternate meanings of Christmas: competitive decorating; shopping so you're still in debt in June; gifting out of obligation; mandatory "festive" get-togethers. You know the drill.
The stuff that makes Christmas stressful, and that makes you almost unable to appreciate the real Christmas when it comes along.
Waking up with the person you want to be with, surrounded by a warm, safe home and critters who love you. Making a nice breakfast and sharing small gifts over coffee. Spending just enough time with family. Having a good meal with people you care about.
There was a thread on Patternreview about the holidays, and it brought up something that I always remember at this time of year. My mom was a big fan of Christmas. Big. Really big. As in the house had a radioactive glow from down the block because of all the lights she had my dad put up. Indoors, there were decorations and ceramic knick-knacks everywhere. Nothing in the Sears Wish Book was off limits - I was an only child, after all, and Christmas comes but once a year.
She was so into Christmas, in fact, that when I started school and a friend enlightened me that there was in fact no Santa Claus, it was the first time I ever went home and didn't tell her about my day. I didn't want to ruin it for her, because while I wasn't totally surprised about Santa's non-existence, I was certain that she still believed in him. Why else would she make such a huge fuss every year?
It couldn't have been for me, could it? My dad worked all the hours he there were leading up to Christmas so he could be home with us on Christmas Day, so the shopping, indoor decorating and general holiday indoctrination fell to my mom. And she was good at it. How else could I have woken up early one Christmas morning and seen hoofprints on the porch roof? (And how did she do that?)
And what about the bells I would hear just as I was dropping off to sleep? The sound would jerk me upright in my bed and I'd hear her from the doorway. "He just flew over. Go to sleep - he won't come while you're awake."
Years later she told me the bells were strung along the ceiling on fishing line, the "hoof" was on a stick and she pressed it in the snow while leaning out the open window, and when I did finally drop off to sleep, she went downstairs, ate all the chocolate chip cookies and had a shot of whiskey to wash them down.
So maybe she did still believe in Santa. Or at least in the meaning of Christmas. Mom and I had a lot of issues over the years, but I never doubted that she loved me. Thinking back on those childhood Christmases, I'm even more certain.
There was a Santa Claus.
Seasons greetings, happy holidays, Merry Christmas. Pick whichever one applies to you, have a wonderful day and come back soon.