A decked-out door
Originally uploaded by norvegal
It's December 22nd and I'm all baked, boiled, and wrapped out. While the chickadees take turns swooping on and off the bird feeder, snow is falling - giant puffs as if someone's been emptying a down pillow from above the clouds.
The cat gave up on trying to get my attention and has resumed his post on the living room floor. I don't know what he appreciates more, the fact that his bowl is always full or that the house has radiant floor heating.
And in the background, after a weeklong Christmas music bender on Pandora, Johnny Cash sings "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Somehow it all fits together.
I adore this time of year - the colors and lights and smells and decorations everywhere, the moody weather, and the nesting and introspection it inspires. Every year, I go into December feeling grateful for the opportunity to express my love and appreciation for those near and dear to me. I vow to do things differently, to give only things that are genuine to me, to resist the industrial shopping complex.
And then somehow I start to slip. I look at my tins of homemade cookies and bags of brightly wrapped caramels, all made with sincere love and goodwill, and I think..."This person wants an iPad and I'm sending honey bars?!" Usually by the second week I give in and start clicking away. Random crap starts to replace the sincere and heartfelt, I feel somehow cheapened by the whole experience, and then I spend the rest of the year paying off my Visa bill.
This year I didn't do it - I couldn't do it. With the exception of nieces and nephews for whom years of therapy would be necessary to treat the trauma of not getting one of the 20 items they meticulously detailed on their wish lists, everybody else got something from the heart. I'm sure disappointment abounds, but that's just the way it is. And I feel just a little bit better about the whole thing.
It's getting crazy. And you want to know what drives me the most nuts? Those car ads on TV. You know, the one where the husband surprises his beautiful and perfectly clad wife on Christmas day by leading her to the door, where she discovers a brand new Lexus with a big red bow parked out front?
My question: Who buys someone a CAR as a Christmas present? (And how can I become that person's friend?) Yet from the abundance of ads on TV, you'd think it was the most common thing in the world. What message does that send to the 99.9% of the populace that does not wake up and discover a new BMW 5-series wagon in the garage?
One of my favorite holiday movies is Mixed Nuts. It's a sweet little Nora Ephron film featuring a blonde Steve Martin, a gorgeous Madeline Kahn, a knitting Rita Wilson, a crossdressing Liev Schreiber, and a yet-unknown Jon Stewart on rollerblades - plus many cameos from other fine people. The plot itself is predictably goofy but welcome at this time of year.
Near the end, Steve Martin's character is trying to lure a gun-wielding Santa costume-wearing Anthony LaPaglia off the roof of a building (as I said, goofy plot) and he says something to the effect that Christmas is that time of year when we view our lives under a microscope, and everything we don't have feels that much bigger. I find that to be extremely true, and those car ads sure don't help the situation.
So I shut off the TV, preheat my oven, pull out the butter to soften, and bring the focus back home.
But in case you were wondering, there's plenty of room in the driveway for that BMW. And could I have the one with the heated steering wheel?