Well, personally, it’s been a heavy plod into the holidays this year. Sucks when bad things get in the way of the warm fuzzies—everyone’s disoriented by sadness and changing plans.
So it’s tough to get into all the things that go along with Christmastime. It’s tough not to have the happy obsession over every little stocking stuffer and ornament. But even if you can’t make the effort, Christmas comes all the same. (Yes, yes, “fahoo fores” and all that.) Christmas isn’t what you put into it. Not to sound contrary to the season, but Christmas is about what you receive.
A couple weeks ago, the Big Pam in Charge had been looking for a home for a tinsel-colored fake Christmas tree, and I accepted. Seemed fun. But, as I assembled it branch by metallic branch, I wondered if we were still going to get the real tree like always, like I grew up with, or was this shiny thing going to be our actual, official Christmas tree? And then I realized something: I don’t know where the line is anymore between joking decorations and my sincere Christmas spirit. Like how much I look forward to making fun of The Christmas Shoes every year. Or like when my stoic, academic father busts out the “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” toy, because he gets real glee from it. When humor is part of your holidays, tacky can be heartwarming, too.
As CCB and I moved on to the rest of the decorations, unloading the box of random strings of lights, CCB discovered the neon blue, super-bright LED lights he had in his Christmas collection before we met. I get some of the stage manager-esque Christmas anality from my mother (who has, in her quest to spread her Christmas empire, given me most of the lights I have), but CCB always takes charge of these bright blue wonders. Usually they grace the porch columns or otherwise greet guests on the outside of the house. But this year, after only a few moments of contemplation, CCB’s eyes lit up: the tree. We could have a silver tree with bright blue lights.
My first instinct, of course, was, “Dear god no. No. Absolutely not.” But that faded so fast—CCB was really excited for the idea, and what about Christmas aesthetics says the tree has to be multicolored? Let’s face it, once you commit to a tinsel tree, you’re not really adhering to normal aesthetics anyway. Besides, this way, neither of us had to go through the stress-inducing swear-a-thon that always happens when I try to get the lights just right.
And y’know what? It’s nice, the tree that isn’t me.
So as I went back to swearing at the outside lights I was trying to get just right, I had another heartwarming thought about the Christmas spirit—how it’s about letting other people give you things and associating those things with them, instead of looking around your surroundings and seeing nothing but things that remind you of yourself. The “warmth” we always talk about is body heat—from the people who are actually around and the ones who aren’t. It’s when you put up things that show the ways other people willingly contribute to your life. That’s where the warmth comes from.
That and the 400-watt fire hazard that is our Christmas tree.