Not Very Christmassy

Here  in New York it feels more like L.A., breaking 70 degrees on Christmas Eve!  I’m here instead of with my family because the unseasonable warmth caused thick fog yesterday, which made my flightchristmas-tree-la-quinta-re  be cancelled.  I will travel on Christmas Day instead, so all my plans are out of whack.

The good news is, my friends have stepped in so I won’t spend Christmas Eve alone.  I will see my family tomorrow.  But this unusual warmth reminds of all the places where it’s routinely warm at Christmas.  In Australia, it’s summertime; in Brazil, it never gets cold.  Even in L.A., winter tends to be rainy and gloomy only in January.

Did you know there’s a prelude to “White Christmas?” Irving Berlin wrote the song from the perspective of someone who’s not home for the holidays, and is homesick for a traditional Christmas.  Here’s how it reads:

The sun is shining, the grass is green, The orange and palm trees sway.
There’s never been such a day…in Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it’s December, the twenty-fourth,…..
And I am longing to be up North.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

It’s the most melancholy of Christmas songs.  It kind of hits that sweet spot of sad, nostalgic, and lovely all at the same time.

So here’s wishing all of you a Merry Christmas, white or not.  May your days be merry and bright…

 

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Blue Christmas

Last week we had a holiday potluck lunch at work.  People brought the usual assortment of fatty, salty and sweet treats, and the department sat around and ate together.  Some of the folks really don’t know each other all that well, and others really don’t like some of the 800px-Christmas_tree_bauble[1]others.  To get the conversation started, a well-meaning person said, “Let’s go around the table and tell what we’re doing for the holidays.”

This is a gambit loaded with pitfalls, and sure enough, they happened.  Not everybody has the perfect family, or a family, and many people don’t have anywhere to go.  One divorced woman was waiting on her infuriating sister to decide if she was hosting Christmas or not.  A single gay guy said he plans to sleep through it, since he will be singing in choirs or as a soloist (his side job) through Christmas Eve.  Our head of technology (a woman) sat at the table with tears sliding down her face.  She’s married, but they have always spent Christmas with her sister, who died a few months ago.

Christmas is a time of joy for many, of irritation for others, and of sadness for others still.  My father was always melancholy at Christmas because his mother died in December.  Mother would hiss at him, “George, cheer up, for the children!”

Perhaps the bluest Christmas I’ve ever had was the year after Daddy died.  Mother and I went through the motions, even traipsing out into the fields to cut down a cedar tree and dragging it back to the house to decorate.  It was too tall, and Uncle Floyd had to come over and cut the trunk shorter so we could get it in the living room.  We spent many a sad Christmas Day alone together after he died because Mother would not “intrude on someone else’s Christmas,” even though we were invited for dinner many times.

I learned my lesson from that.  If someone cares enough about me to invite me on a holiday, I’ll go.  If I can invite someone else who doesn’t want to be alone, I will.  And I admire the guy at work who just wants to sleep–sometimes you’ve had enough celebrating!  I’d like to thank the friends who give me a reason to celebrate Easter and Thanksgiving, and to thank my sister who makes Christmas happen each year.  And I’m grateful for the friends who help me celebrate throughout the year.

So, a happy Christmas to all, and let’s be sensitive to those who don’t have a picture-perfect holiday.  You may be showing kindness to an “angel, unawares.”

Shopping on Christmas Eve

$(KGrHqN,!k8FJjOch,IcBSc9stGJU!~~60_14[1]My dad always bought our Christmas presents on Christmas Eve.  This was before online shopping, so people did actually shop in stores (as some still do.)  I’m not sure why he waited until then, but it may have had to do with not having the money until he was paid, which seemed to happen right before Christmas.  Once or twice Mother put money in a Christmas club at the bank (now there’s another antique concept!) but usually our Christmas was dependent on credit at the store and Daddy’s paycheck.

I made a Christmas list, being careful not to ask for anything I knew we couldn’t afford, or at least, as far as I knew.  Sometimes Daddy’s perception of what fit the bill was a little off.  One year I asked for a guitar, and I got a plastic one from Santa Claus.  Ooops!  Not what I had in mind.  But I was grateful and started learning chords.  The next Christmas Mother made sure I got the real thing, a 1968 Sears Silvertone Spanish acoustic guitar, so I could look mournful and sing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” an essential for any moody teenager at that point.

Sometimes Daddy got taken with a toy himself.  At least that’s the only way I can explain receiving a Charley Weaver Bartender mechanical toy when I was pretty small (see photo above, from an eBay seller.)  He was a character on Jack Paar’s Tonight show, invented and played by Cliff Arquette, telling old jokes and stories about “Mount Idy” and its residents.  In later years he was on the Hollywood Squares, and a heavy user of double entendres.

My family was teetotaling Southern Baptist.  So it was a little odd to get a Charley Weaver toy which shook a cocktail shaker, downed the “drink,” then turned red and spouted smoke from its ears!  If only I had kept that thing–it’s worth up to $200 on eBay at this point.

So to all my family and friends who are celebrating Christmas, have a merry one!  And I hope your shopping is done.