Sunday, December 9, 2007

tis the season

Christmas. It was always for me the most magical time of year, as a child and then as a mother (I went pretty much from one to the other.) I love the essential theme of the holiday--peace on earth, good will toward humans, and I love the pagan elements--heralding the solstice and the dark time of the year. The traditions, the food, the baking, the greenery, the songs, the myths. The gifts! The possibility of snow!

I have always loved Christmas best of all holidays, and I have put my all into decorating and preparing for Christmas for most of my life. Now, not so much. I don't have the time, the reasources, the energy or the motivation. I have other things (work on a novel, paint, read for pleasure, pay bills, grade papers, prepare for school, do my recert work, do laundry, meditate, get the idea ) I want to do.

Still, Jim and I bought a tree today and I have been decorating the house. Nothing compared to what I used to do, however. When I lived in a big house in Atlanta I had two fully bannistered and balconied staircases to trim, 5 bathrooms and lots of square footage. I decorated multiple Christmas trees, though only the great-room tree was live.

I had a kitchen tree. I had tiny, themed trees in various rooms, as well as special pillows, throws, dishes (Spode), candles, etc. etc. for Christmas. I changed the paintings, substituting framed antique Coca Cola Santa ads. I filled wooden reindeer planters with poinsettias, deer of tiny white lights grazed the front lawn. Red bows on posts...

I began shopping for my kids, and anyone else for whom something caught my eye, in August. I put quite a bit of currency into the economy, put it that way. I shopped everywhere: drugstores and antique shops and crafts fairs and trunk shows and church bazaars and decorator showcases. I tried not to miss any Christmas shopping experience. (Of course this was pre-internet, which is my preferred venue now.)

I loved doing it all, baking my mother's snowball cookies (my daughter bakes them too), listening to the Nutcracker and Frank SInatra and God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen...And sometimes I think about how my sister still lives in the house in which we grew up, and what a sense of continuity she must feel.

I don't feel that here in Savannah. It isn't my place, or anything like the way Christmas was where I grew up. Either was Atlanta, but I had a family there.

Now, I am getting old. I work long hours and have far less energy (due in part to health issues) than I once did. My kids are on opposite coasts. My siblings and pretty much the rest of my family are in New York. The holidays are not what they once were.

It is 75 degrees here.

And the thing is, I mostly don't mind. I'm in another part of my life. Older. Still, it's wrenching, sometimes, to feel the loss of those years of my life when I had children at home. In Garden City, perhaps, where I had a beautiful home and family nearby. Did I know those were the best years? Did I make the most of my time with my kids. No. I wish I could relive them. If I only knew then...

But I can't go back, and I'm in a good place now. I have a job teaching at the best public school in Savannah--an arts academy filled with mostly smart kids. And I have a loving boyfriend (I feel weird using that word at my age. But 'partner' sounds too business-like. And gender-vague.) Jim shares my life, completely, and I am grateful.

Anyway, we got our tree today. The first one we saw! A once-in-a lifetime occurence, to like the first tree. The guy who sold it to us left his cell phone in the branches, and it made the trip back to the house. We discovered the phone when we pulled into our driveway and heard...the tree ringing.

We brought it back of course . Which was sort of Christmasy.


Anonymous said...

I feel the same way without the whole family in New York (I certainly wish, though), 5 bathroomed houses in Atlanta, and children on opposite coasts of the country. This Christmas is not that Christmas, if that makes sense. I wish it were colder and I had some money. Maybe I should sell my body; at least someone will get what they want for Christmas!

Maryanne Stahl said...

yeah, but no. don't sell it. it's Christmas: give it to someone as a gift.