Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Christmas

I know, there's not much worse than a 30 year old complaining about how old he feels.  Well, I'll tell you what I told my cat when he was yelling at me: you shut your whore mouth.

No matter what I try, I can't seem to bring back the feeling of Christmas fervor I had when I was little.  There's probably plenty of reasons why it went away.  Christmas isn't a jack-pot of consumer greed anymore.  It isn't a haven of time off from school and commitments.  I don't have a single minded focus of Christmas and only Christmas to fuel the merriment and the season.  Real life has homogenized it all into a faceless time just like any other, and I find that to be a shame.

The past couple of years I've tried to make things a bit more special.  I set up Christmas lights in the bushes in my yard and on the front porch so when I came home late at night from work I had some holiday cheer shining to welcome me home.  I meticulously collected and perfected a playlist of Motown, Rat Pack, and rock Christmas songs to listen to in the car to get into the mood.  I documented the case where last year I went to the mall I used to frequent to get some nostalgia going in my Christmas shopping.  The total sum of all of these efforts has been jack squat. Maybe if I lived in a snowy climate it would be different.  Maybe you only get that sense of wonder back once you have kids of your own.  I'm not ready for that.

It seems appropriate to write this now, because the last time I had that old Christmasy feeling was exactly ten years ago.  Christmas break 2003 was everything I could have wanted.  I drove home from college, having just finished one of the most fun semesters of my college career.  I was quite taken with a lady, and best of all, I had avoided giving a 2 hour ride back home to a giant nerd I had gone to high school with and had regrettably run into again at college. 

I'd taken all afternoon and evening classes for the past four months, and due to a hectic writing, theater practice, and social schedule, I had truly become nocturnal.  Bedtime was dawn, and I would rise again at the early winter dusk, ready to seize the night.

At that time, my sister was working for a small time newspaper.  She frequented the local library near the paper, despite the fact that, as an English major, she still cannot finish reading a book in under a year.  One day, early in my vacation, as a treat for me she rented the first disk of the miniseries Band of Brothers, knowing my love for World War II history and somehow foreseeing my future adoration of Simon Pegg.  So, instead of watching reruns of MASH all night as I did in high school when I couldn't sleep, I would watch episodes of B.O.B. from the time my family went to sleep until my father woke for work at dawn.

I have truly fond memories of the Christmas tree twinkling in the corner as I was enthralled with what would become one of my favorite productions.  I'd snack on Christmas cookies, bathed in flashing holiday bliss and televised mortar flashes.  By morning, the disk would be done.  I'd leave it on the table, and the next disk would be there when I woke at dusk and my sister was home from work.  I spent time with my family, and did the "home for vacation" thing of visiting others that were back.  I couldn't tell you what I got for Christmas that year, but I do know the experience itself was better than anything I could have gotten that was wrapped or bought.  In two years, I'd have a full time job, responsibilities, and much less time to sit back and enjoy everything I did that December.  Even that twinkling tree broke after that year, and none of the replacements have ever been as good. 

The only regret I had that year was that one morning, after finishing a disk and having breakfast with my father, I thought it would be a good idea to take a trip to my old high school and say hi to some of the teachers I had liked.  It was the first time I'd gone back there since I had graduated two years previously.  So, there I was found in clothes I'd lounged in on my couch all night, dark circles under my eyes from not having slept yet.  I walked up to the building to the odd looks of students that maybe remembered me as an upperclassman, and teachers that wondered what in the hell I was on, and what I wanted. 

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