1:02 am. 21.12.21
My Nanny used to always say “You laugh too much my girl and you’ll wind up crying” or something to that effect. I recall just slipping down the wall in fits of hysterical giggles and not really paying much mind to her ramblings. That’s always been my way to see the humor in difficult moments and if we are frank, the moments of this last two years have been some of the most uncomfortable of our collective lives. The humor however has always served me well to get through them and the first few paragraphs below will reflect that. By the time we reach the end of it my perspective might have changed. I might now understand her.
Have you found Christmas this year? I seem to have misplaced it. My husband tells me it’s leaning up against the back of the bedroom closet, but I haven’t been into that closet since I gained a whole extra person this last year. What need is there to hang up the leggings and oversized hoodies exactly? None that I can think of. Going into the closet will only serve to remind me that I have been wholly incompetent at connecting to my physical self since this entire debacle began. I call this reasoning number one for not getting into the tinsel. My second and more logic based reasoning is the addition of a ten week old feline named Binx to our family that already boasts two large canines who shed like they are building a whole new litter. The entire idea of wrestling this demon from artificial branches whilst surely bleeding from the effort does little to inspire me to want to decorate. Neither do I relish the gagging ( my own) when forced to mop up as he hurls whatever sparkly and non edible item he managed to find still adhered to the tree from Christmas’s past.
Our Christmas decor thus far involves eight Swiss Chalet Lindor chocolate shops delivered over the last four Festive Special meals. These boxes are empty of course, because well….chocolate. I currently have 80.00 in Chalet Cash that came stapled to the rooftops, so I am fairly certain I can carry this over to the Valentine meal deal. It’s a win win. I get a free holiday village display and chicken to take me well into 2022.
I don’t know that my husband agrees with my decorating scheme. When I asked him if he really felt it necessary to deck the halls his reply left me at a bit of a loss for words.
“I get it but I almost feel guilty if we don’t”
I sat with that for a bit and then understood it to be the sentimentality of the season for him. He has always been very much this way, while I have always been the opposite. I find sentimentality in fractions, in only the memories that stand out large, while he finds it in the more simple reflections. Every year without fail he pulls out his mum’s old tarnished Christmas bells, hanging precariously now from the velvet ribbons that are fraying with the passing of decades. And every year I want to find something new to top the tree with because my own mother is still adorning hers with a dilapidated plastic angel that is 50 years old, only 6 years my junior. I have warned her on several occasions that she does not want to put that on my side of the “china cabinet” For those that have not heard me speak of this before the “china cabinet” has been strategically managed so that in the event of her passing each child has specific treasures that she has collected over the years. My poor mum if she’s heard it once, she’s heard it a thousand times “I don’t want that, put it over there, my brother will love that” or “What in Gods name possesses you to believe I need a 12 pound carnival glass bowl exactly? Put it over there my sister will love that” I am sure she believes that I just have absolutely no attachment to anything. Partly true I suppose, but not entirely. When my much loved Nanny passed away I took home with me a set of little Chinese slippers that I am sure she stole from the Canton restaurant that she loved so much, two horrid little green ceramic frogs that made me laugh so hard because the potter had created one female and one male and both completely anatomically correct. I still have them if anyone needs proof. And the last thing I took was her dresser, because it smelled like the Chantilly powder she practically bathed in, and the aroma of her cigarette that she sat in the change holder in the top drawer while she went about her morning dressing routine. If you come to my office you will still see this dresser sitting there. The bottom two drawers removed it now serves as a small table, adorned with black and white photos of family inlayed into the wood.
Sentimentality to me is the feeling and nothing to do with the object. So if my mum is reading this, you would be further ahead to toss your hair curlers into my side of the cabinet, with one of the headscarves you used to hold them in place or perhaps a bobby pin stretched open to take me back to the memory of you furiously using it as a q tip. The curlers and scarf a reminder of how funny I always found your 3 day hair regime, the bobby pin a reminder that I would sit fascinated watching this and wondering how you weren’t deaf because of it. Maybe your old stand up makeup mirror that reminds me of how I sat and stared for hours and learned to perfect it through your example. Your old tail comb and a bottle of final net too.
Sentimentality for me is the remembering the emotional responses that are garnered. Which is why I am struggling with Christmas this year. Although the idea of busy shopping malls makes me cringe at the best of times, there is something so incredibly wonderful about the energy at this time of the year. The Santa workshop in the middle of it all, the kids all lined up, the carols piped in over your shopping experience. The bows and the paper, the foil and the ribbons. The teddy bears with big red bow ties, the nothing but songs of the holidays CD’s fronting the electronic center. The mall kiosk with hundreds of stockings waiting to be adorned with a name.
All of the things that I didn’t realize created a sentimentality in me have struck me sad this year in their absence. The malls may be decorated but we are all too busy trying to move around each other without affecting each other, to even notice. The conversations at the cash over holiday plans with complete strangers while we wait for the long line ups to move have been diminished. The smiles, I miss the smiles the most, hidden behind fabric and frustration with the ever changing rules of engagement. I know I have been surrounded by carols but I can’t remember hearing them because I find pressure in browsing too long, or pushing my cart up too close, or unloading my items onto the belt too soon before the customer ahead moves further away. Christmas from an emotional standpoint means connection. Finding each other, being kind to each other, sharing a laugh with a stranger. Christmas has long been held as that time of peace that descends over the world, we all feel it, the silence that speaks so gently. There is nothing that has ever felt more true to me in my entire life than the feeling that the calm of an early Christmas day provides. The knowing that we can expect to spend the day with certain people, in certain places just reminded us of every year before. So this has been hard for many of us in that we don’t know what it looks like anymore, but here we are hoping it looks like something we remember.
For now the Festive Village will suffice because it’s creating a new and silly thing for me to reflect onto when all of this is done. It will give me something to laugh about of a time that was so uncomfortable. And maybe my yearly date with Ebenezer this Christmas Eve will find me inspired to put out the tree before bedtime in the hope that it brings the same Christmas morning calm that I love so well. Perhaps you will feel it too and we can share in it together. This is my Christmas wish for us all.
I suppose I should pull out the tarnished Christmas bells too. 🙂
Merry Christmas with love.