November 29, 2006

Where's the Christmas Spirit?

Right HERE. For whatever reason, I've had no problems getting into the Yuletide Groove this year. Let me count the ways.....

The Tree
One of the very first compromises made in our newly minted Marital Bliss was that X convinced me to purchase a fake tree. I come from a Real Tree family, but X comes from a NO Tree family. For Catholics in India, Christmas is actually about Christ (Gasp!) and all they do there is eat food and go to Mass. Therefore, X still does not appreciate all the Holiday Hoopla and probably never will (although, I suspect Arun will lighten things up as that furry little kid has a mainline straight into X's cold, frosty heart). Anyway, I gave in and did a fake tree. I have to admit I haven't looked back - I leave the tree up in the basement with lights still strung and OMIGOD, it is a veritable pleasure lugging the thing upstairs and merely plugging it in. No sawing. No sap. No pokey needles. No fresh tree smells. Sob. Okay, it's not ALL grand, but still, life is easier with the Spurious Spruce.

The Ornaments
I love, LOVE Christmas trees - last night, I went to Festival of Trees in Lawrence at the Liberty Hall and just about swooned at all the gorgeous trees there. In my own house, I have a regular-sized tree, plus two miniatures (one used to go on my desk at work). One of the miniatures is only about 5 inches high and holds my teeny, tiny Harry Potter ornament collection. The other is just a standard miniature tree. The regular-sized tree is what can only be referred to as a Sentimental Tree. It holds ornaments collected over the years - for example, while traveling instead of buying random tchotchkes, I pick up ornaments. When out on special holiday shopping excursions with girlfriends (say, up to Weston or Parkville), I'll pick up an ornament to remember our day by. The tree also holds standard glass ornaments that I decorated myself with glitter glue many years back when I was very poor and distressed that decorated glass ornaments cost so much. I painstakingly decorated a set of plain bulbs myself - most of them are just okay-looking, a few are pretty atrocious and even fewer came out simply beautiful. However, those bulbs represent a time for me that I never want to forget because otherwise it would mean I have become ungrateful for what I have now (and yes, I can see Arun already rolling his eyes as I faithfully recite the Legend of the Cheap Glass Christmas Bulbs for him year after year). Anyway, if we ever live in a house that has a formal living room, I would LOVE to also have a Perfect Tree but I will never give up the Sentimental Tree. Never.

The Decor
First, as part of the Great Conifered Compromise of 2003, I treat myself to Yankee Candle's "Balsam and Pine" candles every year. I also have "a thing" about snowglobes, but I'll admit I am a big snob about it. A snowglobe that just spits out snow - or worse, SPARKLES? Hell NO. There better be a blizzard going on under the glass or it doesn't grace my mantle. I also have a thing for any cheesy candled concoction that requires a tealight. Tealights are my FRIEND and I buy 'em by 100 pack. One tip on decorations, though - I read long, long ago that it is wise to remove many of your REGULAR decorations so that things don't get cluttered. Words to live by. I wish we decorated the outside of our house, but I am just waiting for Arun to tug on his daddy's sleeve for that one.

The Cards
I actually send out Christmas cards and they feature our cat Pearson. It started out as a joke when my grandma made a comment about wanting pictures of "our baby" in her next year's card - a not-so-subtle reference that we needed to get working on co-mingling our DNA. We did successfully get our DNA in order, but I still feature Pearson on our card. It makes me sad that more people don't send out holiday cards.

The Cinema
Ah, where to begin? I try to get through them all and always start with the Thanksgiving movie, Home for the Holidays. My favorite holiday of all is Robbie the Reindeer (hint: do yourself a favor and go for the BBC version), but WAIT - there's Charlie Brown, White Christmas, Frosty, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Christmas Story, the Grinch and of course, all the 1960s Claymation Calamaties that are a must-watch now (remember the anxiety when you were a kid trying to figure out the TV schedule because OMIGOD when was Rudolph going to air ALREADY. The waiting. The anticipation). I think it's pretty cool that NEW classics are still being made, like Elf. Oh, alright......Okay, I'll admit that I loved Bad Santa and am so, so tempted to buy the DVD this year.

The Melodies
Of course, I love all the old classics. Again, where to begin? However, I really don't care for remakes and renditions, though. For example, I really prefer to hear The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole and Santa Baby? Only Eartha Kitt, please. My favorite classical is The Nutcracker Suite (the version with Andre Previn conducting the Royal Philharmonic version is simply breathtaking and one of the best I've ever come across). I'd put the Charlie Brown Christmas in "classical" category, too. If you like choirs, The American Boychoir is gorgeous, also. Again, I think it's cool that "new" classics are still being made by the likes of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Sarajevo-Christmas Eve and A Mad Russian's Christmas both give me chills).

The Commerce
I have pared my shopping list WAY down - I am buying for about 16 people now. I am debating whether to dice it down again - my cousin and I buy for each other's kids, but we only see each other maybe once a year and rarely around Christmas. We used to be really close when we were growing up, but as adults, we don't have much in common. I am tempted to suggest to him that we not exchange at all. Am I being Scroogy? Do YOU buy for your cousin's kids? Also, this year, I am attempting to do NO gift cards. Last year, I did almost exclusively gift cards, although I focused on locally-owned stores and tried to not include any chains. This year, I actually want to do a little hunting to see what I can find. My goal is one nice present and one small present for each person. X, per usual, is vehemently insisting he doesn't want anything. How Grinchy is THAT to not even want something for YOURSELF?

The Kid
Yes, having a kid helps with the Yuletide Groove. The way his eyes lit up when he first saw the tree in the living room? The way he pulls at the lights and pulls on the tree skirt? At least he's not chewing on the branches. Decorating hint for those with toddlers - put the tree up sans ornaments for a few days and let the little bugger get used to it first. Thank GOD, the novelty seems to be wearing off, so I will start decorating it tonight.

So, what gets you in the Mood?


Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I have to send out Christmas cards this's a #1 priority.

The only problem is that I'm trying to find cards I LIKE. I'd love some Nightmare Before Xmas cards, or a set I bought years ago (and now can no longer find) of Edward Gorey illustrations, but everything in the stores is that weird dude who draws pictures of lights in windows. Thomas Kinkade? No THANKS.

Funny but the older I get the more into Christmas I get though I don't celebrate it religiously. Not so much into the decor and presents (I like to make mine or give food) but holiday parties, hanging out with family and friends, cards. The end of the year is depressing but family makes it cosy instead of depressing.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with a fake tree (is it an Indian thing?:))and didn't know no different until I married Mr. Christmas. Now it's a real tree every year or he might cry like a little baby.

By the way, is X from Kerala? Just asking since he's Catholic...

Anonymous said...

Fake trees have come a long way since the Christmas Queen™ of my childhood. There was a fake one at this produce market/farm we go to that I thought was real until I made a very, very close inspection of it. (Ironically, this place sells live Christmas trees, albeit none as gigantor as the one they had set up inside their store.)

Anyway, fake is fine in my book. Just get yourself a fresh wreath or swag so you can enjoy the lovely conifer smell.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Yes! He is from Kerala.

I totally forgot to include Christmas Vacation in the "movies" section. Horrors!

Goofy Girl said...

I love Christmas long as they are within my control(i.e., not the Muzak version of "Jingle Bell Rock" in the Wal-mart).

I also love Christmas lights...outside. Driving around looking at different colors and configurations. These giant blow-up Santa, Snowmen, etc. kinda bug me. There's no 'art' in them.

...oh yeah, and the holiday pies. Yum!

Anonymous said...

We have a fake tree here at home, since my dad was tired of cleaning up the dead pines after thirty days..

I can't blame him for that, but I do miss the smell.

My first year out, I'm absolutely buying a real one. Then I can throw a tantrum and purchase a nice fake one the year after.

I just love everything about Christmas.

Diana said...

I'm a Christmas nut. We still do a fresh tree, so we have to get it closer to Christmas. At this point, it's the pets we have to worry about taking out the tree. Decorating it with the kids is just the best, well, that and decorating cookies. And opening the cards that come in the mail, and putting up the other decorations, and, and, and...

I send out cards each year with a recent picture of the kids with some holiday something in the background (send me your address and I'll send you one) and (hush) I put one of those letters in if it's someone that we don't hear from much.

I'm not in touch with most of my drifted cousins, but if I were, doubt I'd buy their kids gifts.

Jenn said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! Putting the tree up and decorating helps, but what REALLY gets me in the mood is baking Christmas cookies!

Cheryl said...

Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You'. Never fails. I really don't like her music, but I swear I could put that song on repeat the whole of December.

Anonymous said...

I have 15 nieces and nephews, so no, I don't buy for my cousins' kids, ha!