I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday season. I am a little like chocolate with sea salt about it. I love chocolate with sea salt, and have been stuck on it for about a week, although it gives me a stomachache. Christmas is the same way.
I am typing this as I eat yet another broken chunk of a Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree (racy, no?) bar laying on the kitchen counter. I keep walking past it and partaking, as if somehow eating the whole thing in pieces as I continually walk by it is somehow different than eating the whole thing. I WAS eating some lovely chocolate truffles with sea salt (made from a recipe on PW) but I finally froze them so they might have a chance to make it to some holiday plates for others, and I might have a chance to maintain a size XXX. Then, I spotted the chocolate and salt already together in a Ghirardelli bar and it jumped into my cart. It's warfare up here in my psyche, I tell you.
((I am also eating on the tablecloth after yelling at my family about the same thing this week, so don't tell them.))
My feelings about Christmas are like the tiny nuggets of sea salt that I sprinkled on the truffles and this stowaway candy bar, salty and sweet. My negative feelings have a strong bite to them and they are kind of bitter, but tempered by the rich goodness of the truffle. Things like shopping, gifts and gifts are the grainiest pebbles under my saddle. Did I say "gifts" twice and mean it? You bet I did.
The gift giving of Christmas just wears me out entirely. People will literally knock each other down to get the last manger scene, will have a verbal altercation with stranger over a Sesame Street toy and will practically cut a man for the latest flat screen TV. I find the whole charade ridiculous and will wax philosophical about consumerism and Unplugging the Christmas Machine to anyone who will listen. Yet, here I am this year all a-frenzy on Black Friday...electronics in hand (I shoved no one and there was no spitting or name calling, but you get the idea). Why do I still get the pit in my stomach that my indulged children will somehow feel shorted on Christmas if there isn't "enough" under the tree? Ugh. I hate me. And I wish the gift giving portion of Christmas would go the way of the Dodo, and leave more room for the other elements..like food.
Adults are the worst. After complaining about how expensive the holidays are, and our dwindling budgets, we will still all INSIST on getting each other some kind of trinket to show that we care for one another, even though we need NOTHING and can't even think of something to ask for legitimately. At least kids are going with the magic theory. We know the reality, and still....ch-ching!
Wise friends will eventually see the light and just have a nice lunch together, but families KNOW that they must get each other "some little something" or surely, the world will crash in on Christmas Day. Even after making sworn agreements NOT to do an adult gift exchange, some well-meaning asshole cheats by giving a scarf or some stationary, just because.
|STOP THE INSANITY! |
I can buy my own socks!
The chocolate side of my Christmas season duality includes a few things that I really think are special, and give me a feeling of joy among my negative feelings. One is ringing the Salvation Army bell with my sweet baboos. We help the more needful population of our community by begging strangers to put money in our kettle, but I don't really do it for the "giving back" mentality. I do it twice a season because we have a great time singing Christmas carols badly (in acoustic store entryway) and having one legged standing contests. Good fun. People stop to chat with us, and to see who will win the one legged standing contest in progress (Hint: I will). It makes me feel happy to be there doing good work and having fun with my peeps. I hope that people rushing through their holiday season, annoyed by having to find something that Uncle Jim, who doesn't like anything, will possibly like. I hope that seeing us on a hot chocolate and sugar cane high, standing on one booted leg with candy canes hanging off of our ears will make them laugh as they grumble and lug their bags of hams and chocolate chips home. Not to brag, but my little darlings can do that to a person...especially me.
I have been unfair to my family of gift lovers above, so I will temper my criticism by saying that I love hanging with the fam at the holidays. I like all of the food and sitting around talking with everyone from my husband's hilarious Grandparents to the girlfriend and friend of my nephew who happened by. The Community of Christmas allows that all of us will smile at each other a little more and share some laughs, and maybe a raucous game of 'spoons" now that the shopping frenzy is over and we can't possibly buy or wrap one more thing. The kids are zooming all over the house, and ONLY they care about the presents (Why can't we get a clue?). And, there is the smell of warm food cooking...and wine. Ahh, wine. Bring on the holidays.
I like Christmas cards too. I like getting non bill material in the mail, with great photos and even the occasional "what we did this year" letter, even the ones that are a little barfy. I particularly enjoy cards that look like they will someday be featured on "Awkward Family Photos". They make me laugh.
|Thank God they are overfed...|
(the cats, not the people)
Another bit of chocolaty goodness for me is Christmas Carols. You heard me. Not a new fangled rock and roll remix, or Carrie Underwood's fresh take on Christmas miracles, but the GENUINE ARTICLE. Silent Night, I'll Be Home For Christmas, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and all of that jazz. Ooh, I will burst out in song in the grocery if the mood so strikes me. And God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman is just such a song to do that, in K-mart or not. Religious or not. I will continue to hum them as I traipse through the parking lot, past people who in the spirit of the season, are giving other shoppers the finger over the parking space they felt was rightly theirs. See me? I am not even noticing, as I am humming along ..hmm, go the bells, hmmm, Christmas Cheer, hmmm, blah, blah, blah....Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong!...Christmas is heeeeeeeeere.
Got to go lie down. My chocolate Sea Salt Soiree is giving me a stomachache.