Advent starts on Sunday, so I guess I’d better finish those Christmas cards that I started on October 13, 2011. Yeah, I’m slow but not that slow. I took them with me to North Carolina on the ill-fated scuba trip and never got around to finishing them. Gee. I can’t imagine why.
Actually, I understand why I didn’t finish them in 2011, and I thought I could stretch the pity-factor into 2012, but by 2013, I had immeasurable guilt because I hadn’t written the two previous years. Last year, I noticed that I received fewer cards than in the past, which saddened me, realizing that you reap what you sow, or in this case, you get what you send.
Unfortunately, I can tell from last year’s cards that three old friends still think that the Veterinarian celebrates the holidays on Earth, and I can’t quite figure out how to break the news to them. Christmas is a brutal time to tell people that he celebrates with real angels now. Of course, when would be a good time to tell them? The bleak midwinter? Easter? (Possibly.) Halloween or All Saints? OK. I’m going to bite the bullet and send those grim messages prior to December 1. No, really, I am. I swear. I’m going to send them. Cross my heart and hope to —- well, that’s a bit inappropriate, don’t you think?
I love Christmas cards. I even love Christmas letters. I don’t care if you send me one of those ridiculous, snarky letters about your genius kids (grandchildren, now, I guess), adventure travel, luxury beach house or ski chalet, or even your yacht or motorhome that’s probably bigger than my house and sucks up more oil than my furnace did last winter. I just want to know that you are alive and thinking of me, because I am absolutely thinking of you. Perhaps we haven’t seen one another in 10, 20, even 30 years. I don’t care. I remember that you touched my life for good in some way. If you treated me poorly, then I don’t remember you at all, but it still would be entertaining to hear from you. Selective amnesia? Perhaps. But, as we age, we may not remember each other at all next year.
And if you aren’t as verbose or as attention-hungry as I am, don’t worry about not sending a letter. Your signature in a pretty card celebrating any of the many holidays will do. I’m happy to celebrate any occasion with you in any language, although I must admit, every year I eagerly await a Christmas letter from a certain dog from New Jersey. Yeah. You know who you are.
My cards will have the word “Christmas” in them, for sure, and probably wish you a Happy New Year, too. You can’t get people to agree on peace and goodwill any other time of the year, but you can for a couple of weeks in December. I’m happy with “Christmas” or even “Xmas,” as the early Christians did, or “Hanukah” or “Chanukah”. Just don’t bother with “Season’s Greetings” because winter is not a season that I celebrate. And really, no one puts up a “Seasonal Tree” (at least, I hope not).
Ah. The Christmas tree. I do like a pretty tree. For many years, the Veterinarian had a client who raised nursery stock and always pruned one tree especially for us. They were about 10 feet tall and stunning. Then, the poor man had a tractor accident and gave up tending his nursery stock entirely. We still went to his farm every year to cut down a tree. By 2010, they were all well over 20 feet tall, so the Veterinarian would brazenly cut one down and remove the top 12 feet for our tree. Can you imagine how that worked? In 2010, the Daughter and I complained that we had moved into “Christmas Bush” territory.
For our first Christmas without him, in 2011, we went to a local nursery three days before Christmas and acquired a beautiful 9 foot spruce on sale for $30. It was stunning, and it shed needles like crazy. The next year, I bought a 9 foot artificial Douglas fir, which I can put up and take down by myself without hacking off limbs or trunks or wrestling with lights. It’s every bit as pretty, doesn’t shed needles, and doesn’t need watering. By the time I’ve wept over every ornament, from my grandmother’s ornaments c.1935 into the 21st century, it doesn’t matter what they’re hanging on. Christmas has arrived.
I’m not a Black Friday shopper. My favorite shopping day is the last Saturday before Christmas. The sales are even better, if you aren’t shopping for the latest electronic toy, and the first spring clothes (aka “resort wear”) are already appearing. By that time in late December, I’m ready to start thinking of balmy breezes and palm trees and rum and Coke, not rum and eggnog. I get to the mall just before it opens, when there’s plenty of parking and few shoppers. I always leave by 11am, when the unruly hordes appear, i.e., men who left their shopping until the last minute. I hope their significant others enjoy tropical prints, perfume, or Hickory Farms. Of course, the wives of recalcitrant shoppers get good jewelry, because that’s all that’s left.
Well, I’d better put down the box of Puffed Wheat and get my yoga pants off the sofa. The Zumba Gold dvd calls. My Fitbit complained that I overate yesterday. Shouldn’t have had that third slice of pizza just because I had wine left in my glass. I recently finished off the Halloween candy and am facing Thanksgiving carb overload while the specter of eggnog breathes down my neck. I’d better start shaking off the fat.
A prospective online date asked if I like to work out. I said, “No, I don’t like to work out. I hate it with a passion, but, even more, I hate Spanx and can never remember to suck in my stomach, so I work out.” All of these dates want a woman “who keeps herself in shape.” Have a look in the mirror, guys. Speaking of which…
DATE UPDATE: Last week’s date was interesting. I quite carefully measured how long it would take the conversation to turn to me, and, as usual, it never did. I’ll give him this, his stories about war, politics, and religion were entertaining, and our conversation was interesting. Of course, I am almost never at a loss for words on any topic. After 90 minutes, he stopped in mid-sentence to comment, “You’re really smart.”
I smiled and said, “Oh, I know a little about a lot, just enough to make me dangerous.” It went right by him, as he resumed his lecture.
When lunch was over, we took a turn around the adjacent art museum, which almost made it worthwhile. Wandering through the museum’s world-famous collection of Impressionist and Expressionist art, amassed by a pair of Baltimore sisters, I commented, “Don’t you think it’s fascinating to see paintings collected by young women from Baltimore who just happened to make the acquaintance of the most renowned artists of their time?” (For the sake of brevity, I paraphrase.)
He just shrugged and continued to talk about the state of the papacy, until, finally, an Andy Warhol canvas entitled “Rorschach” brought to his mind a peculiar story about being tested by the NSA (i.e., the National Security Administration) with ink blots. Some of you may see where that went. He was too matter-of-fact to be salacious, so I had to turn away to stifle my laughter, when I realized he was unaware that the young museum guard was startled by our graphic conversation. Yeah, kid, some of us old folks are still aware of our body parts.
Last night, I had a lovely date with a man who also has interesting stories, and — are you sitting down? — he wanted to know all about me! So, who am I to complain? Happy Thanksgiving! Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!