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When Will it Feel a Lot Like Christmas? | Manolo for the Big Girl

When Will it Feel a Lot Like Christmas?

I have a confession to make, and it’s kind of an odd one for me: I’m not in the Christmas spirit. There’s one week to go, and I’m sitting here in an undecorated room sans holiday tunes with only two presents taken care of.

A lot of my problem is probably the nasty Cold From Purgatory that, like its namesake, goes on and on and on and on without much hope of redemption. It’s been with me for more than a week and I’m still producing things from my chest that may – almost – be more terrifying than the truth behind  Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa cake. Let alone the cake itself.

But I honestly think that most of my problem stems from the fact that I seem to be surrounded by people who think of Christmas as a chore to be gotten through as painlessly as possible rather than an opportunity to express our appreciation of one another and to reflect on the importance of friendship.

If it weren’t for the cold, perhaps I could get over my ennui. If it weren’t for the ennui, the house would probably smell of cinnamon and ginger right now rather than the dishes sitting in the sink waiting for me to work up the energy to wash them.

And yet, I know that on Christmas day I will feel the spirit. I feel confident that there will be music and laughter and – fingers crossed! – perhaps even a gasp of surprise from Mr. Twistie when he sees what I’m giving him.

All the same, I think I could use a hand here. Pretty please, pipe up and tell me tales of Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Solstice, or even birthday) cheer from your past. Tell me about fun times, good friends, and hilarious disasters that worked out in the end.

Once I’ve read a few holly jolly tales, I might work up the spirit to watch Blackadder’s Christmas Carol again and string some popcorn. Oh, and pass the eggnog.

18 Responses to “When Will it Feel a Lot Like Christmas?”

  1. La Petite Acadienne December 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    Oh, I SO hear you. In our house, we went from flu, to bronchitis, and now The Stonecutter has a stomach flu. I just can’t get into Christmas this year, because all I can think about is all of the stuff we have left to do (I’ve BARELY started my baking), and how little time left we have to do all this stuff. We decorated the tree the other night — the latest we’ve ever left it, and if we weren’t having company this year, I would have been happy to skip the tree altogether and just pick up some things from the bakery instead.

  2. Rebekka December 18, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    I’ve been stressing this year so the Christmas spirit has been slow in coming. There’s illness in the family – both temporary and more serious – and our finances have taken a hit due to sudden expenses (death of a computer, etc).

    However, I have decorated our apartment, and bought the presents, and even baked some cookies (and eaten most of them!). Our Advent wreath is half burned and our calendar candle is getting pretty small… I even drank Christmas tea with breakfast this morning, and finally things are coming along. There’s even snow outside, and if I hear “Last Christmas” one more time I’ll do something very unChristmassy.

    My family is so non-Christmas spirit it makes me nuts. The last few years I was there I had to fight to get a tree. When I moved to Denmark after I married my husband I thought I’d died and gone to Christmas heaven. Christmas both on the 24th and the 25th, with tons of food (pork roast with the rind on, goose AND duck), presents, and dancing around a Christmas tree with real candles and singing Christmas songs.

    I’m not sure I have any funny memories except for maybe the time we got up Christmas morning and found that one end of all the presents had been opened and very clumsily taped up again by my younger sister, who STILL can’t wait to see what’s in a present.

  3. Suze December 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    I wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit, either. I’m in the middle of moving, so I didn’t get to decorate like I usually do, and my apartment is full of boxes. Bleh. But my mom was saying that she didn’t want to go through the trouble of getting a tree and decorating and such, so one night when she was out, I went over, set up my little mini tree, decorated it and put electric candles in the windows. My mom said she cried when she came home to find the house all lit up and decorated. That definitely put us both into a more Christmassy mood! :D

  4. TropicalChrome December 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    Christmas 2007 was shaping up to suck.

    We were in the middle of selling our old house, having already bought our new one (with all the financial hijinks that entailed). Even though the old house was technically under contract the buyers were asking for things that were specifically against the contract they themselves had offered, and our selling agent was acting as if he was working for the buyers instead of us.

    So things were tight and tense, but at least we had Christmas. We had made plans to meet friends who lived about an hour away at a Chinese buffet so no one had to cook or worry about a clean house. And maybe for a few hours we could forget about real estate.

    And then it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. And there was no way we were going anywhere on Christmas Day. Not even with AWD. We ended up at a semi-mediocre restaurant within sliding distance of the new house, and basically had a suckfest of a day.

    The next day, the buyers cancelled the contract. We fired our real estate agent. All those months for squat.

    As it tends to do here, once the snow stopped and the sun came out, the roads cleared. I’d called another real estate agent and even though she couldn’t meet with us during Christmas week, she made sure one of her staff was able to meet us at our old house. And friends of ours had decided to hold a last minute pot luck party.

    The real estate guy was not only sympathetic as to everything we’d been through, but was amazingly optimistic about being able to sell our house. And the party…we walked through the door, the hostess gave us a huge hug, listened to the long involved tale of real estate woe, and made sure we had drinks and food and good conversation. There were trees and lights and warmth and Frango mint cheesecake. It was Christmas, even if it wasn’t on December 25.

    Two weeks later, our old house was under contract – this time at full price. And it went all the way through.

    The point of all of this? Even in the middle of the black hole of suck, Christmas comes every year. It just may take a little longer some years than others.

  5. Cathouse Blues December 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    One of my favorite Christmas stories pins the joke on myself but it’s just too funny not to tell.

    I was married to my first husband (US Navy) at the time, and one week before Christmas he was called away on a short-notice deployment – short notice as in, “Honey, if you don’t make it home in the next half hour I’ll see you when I get back.” Well…balls. It wasn’t the first time it happened and it certainly wasn’t the last, but since it was right befor Christmas and his little jaunts tended to be in the 2-3 months range, I was understandably a little cranky about the whole thing. We had at least gotten the tree up and presents out, but he made me promise not to open anything before the big day. Well, that promise held out for about 24 hours. I had those suckers opened and reveled in before I think he even reached the boat. All would have been well and good if, three days later, he hadn’t returned home suddenly to tell me the trip was off because “they broke the boat” – submarine maintenance at its finest, one can only assume. After the fuss of getting him settled back in it suddenly occured to me that things were a bit bare under the tree…right about the time he noticed the same lack of boxes. “You are SO busted!”

    Yup. We’ve been divorced (amicably) for seven years now and I *still* hear about getting busted opening my gifts early.

  6. theDiva December 18, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    I’ve been hearing this a bit more than usual lately – that folks aren’t feeling especially Christmassy. I chalk it up to the fact that the season now seems to start the day after Thanksgiving – lights up, trees decorated, Christmas music blaring wherever you go, etc. After three weeks it becomes part of the landscape, rather than something special.

    That’s why I never, ever do a thing to decorate, commemorate, etc. until about a week before the day. Prior to that I may plan the menu in my head, or buy gifts and stash them, but that’s it.

    Last night my younger daughter wrote her letter to Santa, wherein she asked for “a model train set, and two BFF necka laces, and a electrical helicopter, basketball, and a electrical t-rex, and for my mom please do this, a easy bake oven and a skateboard too.”

    This afternoon, she and I went to Christmas cantata rehearsal at our church. When we got home, we put up some decorations outside. My husband and elder daughter will pick up the tree tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon after church we’ll decorate the tree and the rest of the house. We’ll take our annual picture of the girls in front of the tree. THEN it will be Christmas. SO excited! Maybe I’ll even get that skateboard.

  7. April D December 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

    I think the part of the hype of the season that bothers me and gives me a similar “Ennui de Saison” is the push to BUY SHIT that gets stronger every day after, well, Halloween really. It kinda kills the urge to make or get thoughtful gifts for friends and loved ones when constantly bombarded by the many ways you’re expected to over-consume (in food, in purchases until in debt up to your eyeballs, in time spent laboring over decorating and hence buying more stuff, etc) in order to Make the Season Count.

    However, I just got to watch the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas tonight and it really brought the spirit back for me. I always get weepy when those little Whos start singing together, with no “Packages, boxes or bows”. ^.^ But then again, it usually doesn’t take much to make me feel pretty excited about watching people open presents, eat happy foods and chatter. I listen to holiday tunes in the dead of summer when I want to bring that warm and fuzzy feeling back.

    I think this year is going to be one of the best holiday seasons. Adam D’s folks are heading HERE tomorrow to celebrate with us (and his brother and sister-in-law). I’m making a roast beast and all sorts of I-never-get-company fooding treats that make me happy to make; but bought a cake that I could never replicate for the cost! It is so low-stress and the idea that Adam and I get to snuggle and NOT DRIVE ANYWHERE on actual Christmas Day makes me happier than a Kraken wrapped around the Black Pearl…or something ;)

    Anyway I hope you find that your own ennui passes and the true spirit of celebration in the darkest days of the long winter season brings you light and cheer!

  8. Toby Wollin December 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    I think holidays are tough on everyone. When I was a kid, I hated Christmas because we didn’t celebrate (and this was long before Chanukah became “8 Days of Christmas and Adam Sandler”) and bringing a menorah to school to do show and tell was just so nothing. Later, when I got to be a teenager, because my parents were so not into holidays of any sort (“Here, have a check; go buy yourself something”), I got into getting my friends to invite me over to their homes to decorate their trees (that’s when I learned that there is no such thing as too much tinsel). I actually am probably the biggest proponent of lights, decorating, egg nog and parties that I know of – don’t do any of it myself but damn, I enjoy it when other people do it. There is, however, one holiday tradition that I hew to as methodically as taking my meds and that is curling up on the couch to watch “White Christmas”. Now, there is a certain strange charm to watching a more than middle aged crooner make like he’s wooing Rosemary Clooney and a red-headed (bleached blond) Jewish kid dance and sing his way through all sorts of stuff with the blond ‘shicksa’ chick with the eating disorder. But that’s Christmas to me.

  9. Twistie December 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    You guys are all amazing. Reading these memories, I feel my heart growing three sizes. Keep ’em coming, folks!

  10. Cassie December 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    I could tell serious horror stories – I’ve spent the past 9 Christmases in retail, and dear god, nothing brings out some people’s rude like the Holiday Season. But that’s not the point here.

    This year is *sniffle* my First Christmas Away From Home. I’ve also managed to get myself some wonderful sinus issues (missed two days of work, and worked through others feeling like/hacking up crap). But the first night I came home and said I wasn’t feeling well, my boyfriend and his sister pushed me into a chair, wrapped me in a blanket, and dosed me with EVERY known remedy that we had in the house.

    This treatment has continued, and I’m feeling much better – in part because I feel like I’m cared for, which is something I thought I’d feel like I was missing out on this season.

    I also just made a batch of cran-strawberry jam for my coworkers, and canning makes me feel happy. At least when it goes right.

  11. cedar December 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I’m a professor, and so is my long-distance sweetheart. This means that the closer Christmas gets the more grading we have to do, and do on deadline. But this year he brought his grading north to my house. We’re curled up on the couch with coffee, candy cane cookies, sugar plums and fruit cake. I put lights on a tiny potted tree, quiet Christmas music on the stereo, and we can sneak a kiss between stacks of final exams. Sometimes that’s as festive as you need to be.

  12. larkspur December 20, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    Ah Christmas! As a child, my favorite holiday of the year! I’ve had Christmas ups and downs, but this year is shaping up to be a fun one. Our tree is up (has been up for a week!) and today my daughter and I finally got the lights on. She also strung those minilights all the way up the banisters and around the living room. I LOVE the lights! that may be my favorite part of Christmas now! One day soon we’ll actually get the ornaments on. We’ve got a beautiful snowy yard to look out at and my husband finally put birdseed in the bird feeder so we have lovely birds to look at. Between that and the tree one of my cats is in heaven! I’m staying up late for a Sunday (have to be up at 5:45am tomorrow!!) so that I can bake pumpkin date bread. I really need to do another baking tomorrow, so that I can bring some to people at work. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg combined with the pine needles (now all over the floor!) makes it finally feel like Christmas! now we just have to keep the temperature below freezing so that the snow stays pretty and white through Christmas!

    Start baking something cinnamony and put up a wreath. Your place will smell like Christmas and you’ll find yourself in the holiday mood before you know it! oh yes, and I had the Roches singing Christmas carols on the CD player until the kids went to bed.

    Merry Christmas!

  13. retna December 20, 2010 at 1:15 am #

    We’re back from Thailand after a week at a lovely resort, and the moment I got home I realised how much I missed our baby, little home, homemade tree ornaments and dog. We don’t have a fancy place but it is home and it is Christmas because of the people around us. My brother who came by everyday to walk the dog, my mother-in-law who cared for baby, nephew and niece who stayed to play with baby, our neighbors who checked in with mum-in-law daily. And now it’s back to work while planning for the big family dinner, the preChristmas bash, and tea with the neighbors. You’ll make it through!

  14. Annie December 20, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    Years ago, my boyfriend and I spent Christmas with his Polish-American family in Phoenix. He got food poisoning while traveling, and then I got it, as soon as we arrived. It was a terrible introduction to his family, and I spent hours in their bathroom (it was festively decorated for Christmas, too). By this time, my boyfriend had recovered, and he stayed by my side the entire time, even though I was feverish, clammy, and must have looked like ten miles of bad road. It was during this terrible episode of sickness, that I realized what true love is. It’s not only being there for fun and gladness, but for the ugly moments in each other’s lives; for giving as well as receiving. He passed away two years ago, and I miss him every day. I never loved that giant of a man more than that night when he took care of me with the gentleness of a mother, soothing my aches, drying my tears, while the Christmas lights shimmered outside, and we were each other’s entire world.

  15. Emily December 20, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Thanks for putting the call out, Twistie! You’re not the only one. I’m the spirit of Christmas in my house–I’m not religious, it’s just always been my favorite time of year–but life has been kind of rough for the past few months, and I can’t find the energy. My husband is a total grinch, which I normally find kind of charmingly curmudgeonly, but this year it just seems cranky. Sigh.

    My dad and I have a silly Christmas tradition that always makes me smile, and thank goodness for that. There’s this ridiculous vintage silver aluminum Christmas tree that he picked up at a yard sale ages ago because it reminded him of his childhood. Every year, he stays up late the night before the annual family Christmas party to put up the tree. The “branches” are packaged individually in cardboard tubes, and when you slide them out it makes a distinctive “shhhht” noise. The joke was that you could always tell Christmas was coming when you heard the “shhhht” for half the night. I’ve lived on my own for years now, but he always calls me when he’s putting up the tree, and holds the phone up so I can hear the “shhhhht” noise. I got my tree call this past weekend, and that’s honestly the first time it’s really felt like Christmas.

  16. Francine December 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Maybe this will help. (Also, Trader Joe’s sells these straw brooms infused with very strong cinnamon oil that will get your house smelling extremely cinnamony in no time, for something like $4):

    The Shortest Day
    By Susan Cooper

    And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
    And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
    Came people singing, dancing,
    To drive the dark away.
    They lighted candles in the winter trees;
    They hung their homes with evergreen;
    They burned beseeching fires all night long
    To keep the year alive.
    And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
    They shouted, revelling.
    Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
    Echoing behind us – listen!
    All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
    This Shortest Day,
    As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
    They carol, feast, give thanks,
    And dearly love their friends,
    And hope for peace.
    And now so do we, here, now,
    This year and every year.
    Welcome Yule!

  17. Manolo December 20, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    Ayyyy! The Sandra Lee Kwanzaa cake, it is giving the Manolo nightmares!

  18. Susan December 21, 2010 at 12:59 am #

    My baby girl (uh 21 years) moved away to start a new life with her boy friend at the end of the summer. About a thousand miles away and no family, she has had a difficult time. Just this weekend we flew out her little bro for a few days with Christmas presents for all so they could celebrate Christmas together a bit early.
    With a bit of theatre, her brother put a shared gift and gift cards under the tree for the gift exchange. As soon as the exchange was done he heard a noise upstairs and asked his sister to go check it out. When she returned he had put on his Santa hat. Reporting that Santa had visited while she was gone and she had just missed him he pulled out her Christmas stocking from home, absolutely packed.
    I had warned her that we were going to make her cry so she was prepared and didn’t shed a tear. Until she had unpacked it down to the toe. I had gone through the Christmas tree ornaments at home and selected a handful of her childhood favorites–those cheap little wood ones she could hang herself, a snowflake doily, one of a set of Christmas bears, a plastic dinosaur decorated with ornaments.
    I had given her fair warning she would cry.