The season of festive behavior and camaraderie is here. Much dressing up and drinking and acting silly with loud laughter and peculiar behavior end the year as the holiday season takes us to give gifts to strangers, feel good about spending money and the occasional excuse to cross boundaries.
Some times we travel to visit family and friends for a brief meal and some catching up before repacking and slogging home.
And sometimes we stay at home.
For the past two years I have traveled down to a little historical tourist town to spend my holiday but this year was different.
Due to a cold and the lack of inspiration of staying in a hotel on Christmas, I stayed home.
It is a quiet day. One of the most undisturbed days with everyone inside lighting the fire, opening presents, call their friends and preparing the feast. Most of the travelers have reached their destinations unless they wander to a nearby family banquet or party. The one-day a year when everyone is content to stay inside and not run leaf blowers
As I walk into the yard there is no movement, no sound. This is a little rare for the creatures that live here don’t know it is Christmas. A flutter in the trees and an unwanted visitor leaves explaining the lack of activity.
A few neighbors walking their dogs or meeting at the local church or testing out their gifts from Santa dot the way, but for the most part it is quiet. A few cars are being loaded for the family caravan-visiting grandmother to hugs and lots of sweets. And everyone is smiling with friendly greetings.
Upon completion of my daily journey and no other place to go, I feed the yard and wander inside.
There is no pile of paper on the floor or giant boxes under a tree glistening with lights. There is no sound of video games or children laughing. There is no kindly tips from mother to daughter on secret recipes only given during this season or old stories remembered by those who’s time is fleeting reliving memories which only they understand.
Instead of the smells of turkey basting and scented pine candles, the house is the same as when I left. The same as it was yesterday. The same as it will be tomorrow.
No, it not as bad as living on cardboard under a bridge. There is a half of a coffee cake given by a neighbor covered in so much sugar and lard it will be washed down by a quart of orange juice. The speakers play guitar Christmas carols and in the tattered and worn snuggle’s the room is warm and well lit. There is nothing on television until tonight’s football game so the decision is made to try and get across what this day is like for those of us home alone for the holidays.
After a few years of traveling back and forth between families sharing holidays I got an excuse to get out of the seasonal struggle – work. When I became part of the 24 hours operation, someone had to work the holidays, and without children I seemed the perfect choice. The day was not difficult and the celebration could be performed much later, but it was a different schedule than the rest of the world.
So the last few years, there is no decoration or baking for guest because no one comes over and no gift giving or receiving (except for the coffee cake, but I think she is trying to kill me with all that stuff). Only the warm greeting from Blue and Millie when I return, but I have nothing to offer them as they accept a pet on their heads.
So I look around at the piles of projects in front of me and think, “This is what the holidays are going to be like from now on.”
Having already given myself a Christmas present I must make a note to buy and wrap something next year, just to keep it different. And there is a pine wreath on the door with shiny trinkets from Williamsburg past so I did decorate a little.
And this is better than being in a hotel where people are biding their time to be able to leave and join the festivities. Even though hotels spend time and effort trying to decorate for the few who decide to leave home during the holidays, it is still a hotel room. Even the complimentary champagne does not give the same warmth as friends and family, so I should stay home with my yard buddies and my toys and enjoy the quiet of the day.
For Christmas day is like every other day when you are home alone for the holidays.
Next decision: Whom do you kiss for New Years?