Yes, I know it is a pattern, yet family and friends do not surround some on this over-popularized holiday. It is a wonderful celebration for all and I don’t mind the decorations and songs and even the attempts to gather money for funds that are there all year round but no one noticed.
The day starts with the children awake before dawn trying to get downstairs to the lighted tree with all the wonders soon to be realized under it. Sleepy parents who have spent the evening wrapping the surprises that wait hold them back.
The rush for greedy consummation attacks the paper with passionate tears as if panic for some unexplainable want. Piles of rumpled colored paper reveal watches and socks and sweaters and a toothbrush and perhaps a book that will never be read or some unforgettable toy. Breathless at the end of the attack, the booty is arranged for a camera shoot and then put under the tree for all visitors to view.
And they will come around. For Christmas is a time to invite all to view the wealth under the tree. Everyone will come by to enjoy the food and drink spread out but are not impressed by the packages under the tree because they did not get the same booty.
Maybe Christmas is for pirates? Maybe we are just so self-absorbed with greed that whatever the wrapped box holds is never enough?
Now Christmas-for-one makes a level playing field. There is no one else around to put up the lights and purchase a tree and decorate with old family memories and buy cards for people you don’t remember and buy tubes of badly designed paper that runs out too fast or makes eggnog because it is too much trouble so you just drink it straight out of the bottle and forget about the egg and don’t wake up early because it is just another day.
Christmas, the twenty-fifth of December, will come no matter what. The entire town is shut down and the morning is pretty quiet as families gather together to enjoy their rewards for being nice. By the afternoon, if the weather is right, they vacate their abodes to show off their abundance.
A Christmas-for-one is different. At least it is at my house.
I had thought about going back to Williamsburg for a solstice celebration. I checked online and ‘the’ hotel where we stayed was no longer open. I could go to another hotel because they all are alike, but decided I had done that trip and could close the book.
Instead, I settled into my December 25th routine. The day is sunny and bright and cold. A cup of coffee, strange text message from who-knows-where and a journey through other’s Christmas mornings on social media prepares me for my next assignment. Gathering my bag of goodies and putting on another layer, I venture the empty streets to the local park. The geese and birds greet me with wonder of seeing someone else up. Then again they might recognize me from last year. I spread out their treats and step back. As I stand in silence watching them consume a buffet of nuts and berries and seed and bread. Within a few quiet minutes they are back to their usual routine and I’m on my way home.
Warming back up with another cup of coffee, I update the happenings on Facebook. Everyone post cute pictures and warm wishes but I know those guys working today or standing in line at the food kitchen are not in the same mood.
So I download some Christmas pass pictures and search unsuccessfully for a CD of Christmas guitar, and then wander out to my yard babies. Today, being Christmas, there are some more treats that only happen for the holiday. The expensive seed that is already cracked and blended with nuts and corn and whatever goes into that bag is spread out in various locations. Of course sunflower seeds are provided for the oils against the cold. What would Christmas be without peanuts and today’s treats are hazelnuts. They will figure it out. And they do.
Now that all my Santa chores are taken care of, I take a look at Christmas past and find some unique items I had not noticed before.
According to the date, this picture was developed two months after Christmas in 1964, so it must have been the 1963 Christmas. A president has just been assassinated; the equal rights for all humans’ movements were starting, and Santa was very abundant to our family. The tree was kind of scrawny but it was a small living room. I believe the bag on the archway held a fur coat. I also see we started getting the World Book series that were out of date as soon as they were printed. There are three stockings on the mantle so one of them must have been for dad or I had another brother that I don’t remember. It is strange looking into the dining room because I don’t remember that weird 50’s wallpaper. Something’s you don’t remember and some you do. I still have that picture on the wall. It was a print by some famous guy of doves. It is around here somewhere. And I got my first guitar. Well, actually it was a baritone ukulele with a string cord as a strap.
This second image of Christmas past has the wallpaper in the dinning room I remember. There are now two stockings on the mantle and the tree is a live tree. Well, not really live because we cut it down. One year I even tried to plant a live tree in front of the house. I’m weird that way. The bike, I believe was constructed downstairs while I was waiting for Santa. It was a replacement for a stolen or broken or something happened to my old bike. It was a single speed, big fat seat and had this funky light in the front. I think this is after my brother graduated from college because it looks like some kind of NASA jacket there. It looks like the tradition of hanging all the Christmas cards we had been mailed had started to impress everyone who entered. Looks like I was fairly young because there is a Fort Apache box and some sort of rifle. I don’t remember having a rifle, not like the real ones my brother had, but maybe I just broke it and it went into the trash.
This may have been 1962 but I’m not sure. There are pictures of my brother’s class ring and probably his diploma next to the tree. Has to be his because I never got a class ring. The empty fireplace has a gas heater that I don’t remember ever using. Mom must have been playing golf then because I see a pull cart and golf balls. She also got a coffee pop. That pretty wraps up my mom for that time period. There is a jigsaw puzzle, probably for dad, a white shirt and an atlas, and a big stuffed dog. I had asked Santa for a dog that year and this is what I got. It looks like a basketball in the pile. This must have been around the time my dad built a basketball hoop in the yard on the cement slab where the cars were parked. I never found any interest in basset ball so that was a waste of time and money. Little did my family know how the tinsel would be so important to another Christmas night.
I can’t tell you what we ate or what happened after the presents were open. We never went to church on Christmas so we probably just went up to our rooms and watched television. That was the usual ritual.
Christmas has some fond memories and some not, but that is Christmas-for-One. Now should I make a turkey dinner for Christmas with Spanish rice, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and fried apples? Or maybe I’ll just order in Chinese. I know they are open.