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Monday, December 22, 2008

"This Is What Christmas Is All About, Charlie Brown"
or how I spent my week trying to get my Christmas spirit back

Okay, so I've been in a real funk the last couple of weeks. Totally devoid of any sort of Christmas cheer. Normally I'm the kind of person who really gets into the whole spirit of the season. You know, like obnoxiously upbeat and in your face with all the happiness and good cheer...baking and decorating and buying lots o' stuff for others and generally overly enthusiastic.

But this year for some reason, the Christmas crunch season pissed me off. I really didn't give a shit. I did everything half-assed. Seriously. The decorations were half up...the empty space where the tree should be, mocked me...Geo hadn't finished painting this year's card...I hadn't even wrapped anything even though I had three soirees in one week to attend requiring wrapped packages. And yet I really, REALLY didn't care if any of it was finished. Not like me AT ALL.

I couldn't even stand to be near myself.

My recovery effort began on Thursday. Our hip, local public radio station, WYEP (the very best station in the whole-wide-world I might add--now downstreaming on the web, check it out) held its first ever Holiday Hootenanny Members Appreciation party. They had cookies, cocktails and a band named "Silver and Gold" comprised of members from about eight or nine local bands to play Christmas music.

It was great fun. They covered all sorts of festive songs...from classics like Silver Bells and Sleigh Ride to less traditional fare like the Kinks' Father Christmas and Bruce's Santa Claus is Coming to Town. They even had a couple (she about two hours from giving birth, swilling a pseudo Cosmo and "smoking" a cig, him wielding a martini shaker) sing the boozy duet Baby It's Cold Outside. The evening ended with a rousing rendition of Do They Know It's Christmas replete with audience participation.

The place was jammed. My sister and I were in the middle of this mixed-age pack, singing, dancing and clapping our hands even though hardly anyone else was joining in. That's one of the things I love about being my age...I get to ignore the dominant practices of public decorum. If I feel like singing along and dancing down the aisle to what's playing in the grocery store, I do it. It's all about lightening the hell up and having fun.

On the ride home, I actually started to feel a little bit better.

Friday was all about doing the Christmas lunch/presents thing with my dear KD Twisted Sisters. We convened at Beets' house, ate tons of tasty chow and polished off a huge bottle of champagne in our Mimosas. The tunes were festive, the gossip juicy, the liquor flowing. I was definitely starting to come around, but not quite there yet.

Saturday was a two-fer. Lunch and holiday shenanigans with my Card Club pals (for the record, we don't play cards--we eat, drink and go on vacation. we don't need no stinking cards). We do this crazy Yankee swap where you find the most hideous thing in your house, wrap it up all purty-like and then fight over them. It's great fun. Mood feeling lighter, but still a ways to go.

Part deux was a Caroling party with the neighbors. We've done this for the last several years now. We drink a little, parade around the neighborhood singing tidings of comfort and joy (to the discomfort of most folks) then return for some noshing and more liquid lubrication.

As an ex-Catholic, we rarely ever sang more than one verse of any song. I don't know..maybe it's some kind of concerted effort to get the folks out of church ASAP, but we just never sang other verses. So anyway, we're at a house singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing, when we get to the second verse:

Late in time behold him come
Offspring of the Virgin womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead...WHAT?!?

What the?! What are we singing? Is this for real? These are really the lyrics? No wonder we only sang the first verse. That's somewhat disturbing. Let's never speak of it again.

As we were pondering what the heck that all meant, I heard someone behind me. There was a young man sneaking out of a dark car and running as though he was being chased by wolves into an equally dark house where upon he slammed the door with such force it shook the picture window. I swear he thought we were zombies come to munch on his brains, that's how much he did NOT want us to sing in front of his house.

Naturally we sang in front of his house.

We launched into Deck the Halls, in tune I might add. The door opened wide. A different, larger shadowy figure stood in the doorway.  

"Deck the Halls with Bows of Holly.. Fa La La La La  La La La--"


He actually slammed the door on us. Seriously. What's up with that?

So we kept singing.

The door opened about six inches...


I laughed so hard, I tinkled a little in my pants. Still we kept singing. We finished one song, sang another then bid Capt'n Curmudgeon a Merry freakin' Christmas.

And that my friends, is what restored the sparkle to my tarnished Holiday spirit.

Sure the friends, carols and liquor consumption certainly helped...a lot. But it was the outrageousness of that singular slamming door that put the bounce back in my step, the life in my lagging elan. I'm back, BABY!

So a tip of the hat to you, my cantankerous neighbor. For you have shown me the true meaning of Christmas. Humor.

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