Things. Objects. Junk. Stuff. I have a lot of it, and sometimes I feel as though it has me.
In the rooms where I write, I am haunted by great writers; the floor-to-almost-ceiling bookshelves packed with books in various stages of use by authors who question my worth behind my fancy Herman Miller desk chair. A three-year-old copy of Ginsberg’s Collected Poems still makes a cracking noise when you open it, while Mila 18’s title on the spine is indiscernible. Hundreds more books live in the bedrooms—and even the bathrooms—upstairs, while thousands breathe life into the attic, many snoring from boxes under the eaves, still packed from our move here 18 years ago.
Atop the bookcases in my dining room are no fewer than seven glamorous cake plates, as if I’ve ever made more than two cakes at one time. From where I sit, I see three acoustic guitars, a DSLR camera, some high-tech speakers, and lots of art. Never mind the tchotchkes.
Last year at Christmas, we decided that we have everything we could possibly need, including a brand new iMac, our family gift. We didn’t even get a tree for probably the second time since we moved here. It’s not that we were all bah-humbuggy. We just thought: enough’s enough. Christmas (and Hanukkah, though it’s a little quieter) seemed absurd.
I thought it would change this year: some cold days would settle in to let us know that winter was arriving, and I’d get the bug to hang some balls on something, maybe a tree, and light a fire in the rarely used fireplace. But the holidays still seem absurd to me.
This season, I’m feeling a little bit of revulsion. I get anxious when I hear the phrase “door busters.” I am queasy over extended shopping hours. Indeed, the thought of some stores opening their doors at, gasp, three a.m. on Black Friday gave me a migraine. I’m angered by the people being trampled on their way to get a deal on a Wii. I am super pissed off at the TV husbands (obviously from a well-off planet) who give their wives a new Lexus. And I am creeped out by Stinky the Garbage Truck.
I tried to stimulate my holiday appetite. I hosted Thanksgiving and made homemade eggnog and eggnog cheesecake and carrot cake. I had my own turkey for the first time in a decade (we’re still eating it a week later as salad and stew and sandwiches). I had friends stop over the next day to help make a dent in the sweets and the troughs of stuffing and mac and cheese my sister left here. But I am missing the spirit that makes me want to shop. And I can’t think of anything I want. The kind of stuff I need—new tires, new windows, new kitchen cabinets—are not gift material.
My kind of Christmas comes as a card in the mail with a personal message to me, like “I love you, Facebook Queen” or “Can’t wait to drink a Dead Guy Ale with you on Good Friday and a Resurrection with you on Easter Sunday” or “I sure hope you get a job in the new year, because your FB status updates kinda freak me out.” I mean, sure, your family/kids/dogs/reptiles/even cats are cute in the photo on your card, and I guess the post office really needs that forty-four cents, but while you’re at it, tell me something good or something funny or something happy about yourself. I already know your name.
My kind of Christmas stars the little kids who still believe in Santa, while I drink a cocktail in Kim’s massage chair next to her beautiful tree and sing along with Chuck Prophet. My kind of Christmas is heading down to the basement with my own family band to play real live Guitar Hero.
Did I just outgrow the holiday? Or am I simply responding to my inability to finance it? How have your feelings toward Christmas changed, if at all?
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If you’re not feeling Scrooge-y, someone you know would probably love a calendar.