Over the last ten years, Christmas seems to have become a ridiculous caricature; filled with too much sugar, too many presents, too much unneeded debt for too little satisfaction. The malls are decorated even before Thanksgiving, and the traffic jams leading to these consumer cesspalaces spawn migraines and ulcers along with mountains of trash and e-waste. Instead of joy, we get obligation and stress; instead of cheer, we develop road rage, panic attacks and ten extra pounds.
But I love Christmas despite it all. I have too many happy memories from my childhood of making ornaments, decorating the Christmas tree, singing carols, eating fudge, watching the Grinch that Stole Christmas, and poring through catalogs to find gifts for my family on my low, low budget. I loved to lay under the tree at night and just stare up at the multi-colored lights, which sadly seem to have gone out of style. Strangely, I don't remember receiving any particular Christmas presents, except for our mutt Rusty and the ubiquitous book store gift card, which I always treasured.
These fond memories are what I hope to create for my son. Memories of spending time together in creative ways, laughing and singing and cooking. Doing, instead of getting. Of course, we hope our son will enjoy his presents. Perhaps he will cherish each one even more as budgets grow tighter and the gifts, fewer. I certainly think gifts of the last decade seem lavishly, even disgustingly, excessive.
Don't worry - the Hausfrau has not gone soft. I can still see the four Horsemen approaching. Some are riding already, the others are mounting up. Economic meltdown, dwindling resources, environmental overload and social breakdown have not gone away and seem to be consolidating their hold on the planet as each day slips by. And as usual, I try my best to prepare.
But for now, I am grateful for what I have and I'm enjoying the holiday season, day by day and breath by breath. Every twinkling light, every cheesy card, every hearty holiday wish. Perhaps because of my doomy hyper-awareness, I sometimes tend to treasure experiences as if they may be my last.
So here's a holiday wish for you, readers. May all of you be safe, warm and well-fed. May you create meaningful memories that will tide you through darker times. May you laugh at the ridiculous excess we see all around us, cherish your friendships and hold on to your darlings, and remember the true meaning of Christmas - whatever that is to you. So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year!