Most years by the time we get to December’s final innings, I’m worn down to a cranky little nub with all the Christmas prep work.
I know I felt cranky a few weeks back when I got all worked up about how we shouldn’t rush Christmas but instead keep on clapping for those muted late-autumn days until they have swept their cinnamon-colored skirts off the stage.
Yet for all my talk, this year I too started decking the halls right after Thanksgiving; and whereas this project once seemed like the world’s most endless job, this year I found doing it only easy and fun.
I had some help and maybe that’s why. That November day, when I heard that our grandsons eight and eleven were coming over, I dashed out to pick up some food, first texting their mom to ask if the kids could maybe go up to my attic for me and drag out the box with those great battery-powered candles that turn themselves on and off all on their own. Imagine my surprise when I got back in the indigo light of dusk to find them all in place, twinkling with their cheery Energizer life in every window. In an hour’s time while I had been running up and down the food aisles, the children has been transforming my house .
- Also, they had brought down the Christmas tree stand.
- Also, the phony-but-flouncy garlands that we can’t bear to throw out because they date back to the phony flouncy 80s.
- Also all three boxes of ornaments and room decorations, right down to the retired treetop angel on whose face I once drew large stagey teardrops for a YouTube skit I was making.
In our front hall we have a bronze sculpture of a woman standing with her hands shyly clasped behind her back. She’s a nude, or at least she was a nude until the children placed an elf cap on her bronzy curls and draped some wide red ribbon about her like the sash on a Miss American contestant.
Somehow the sight of her thus arrayed really pushed me over into “happy” and I have stayed happy ever since. I’ve been happy every time I’ve gone to the mall and found that they are actually NOT playing “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Sleigh Ride.” Heck, I have been happy even when they are playing those jittery tunes on their endless loop.
We bought our tree on December 4th and until three days ago we let it stay outdoors, enjoying a nice footbath in cool water. I have always felt sorry for all Christmas trees, the way they get stabbed with long screws and are left to parch with thirst in the overheated indoor air. We have been happy to think we did something nice for this one.
These are small sources of happiness, I know, but they have done the trick for me. We all know what kind of year it has been. Out in the world, the news is dire, but the news is always dire out in the world. The news has been dire since the dawn of self-awareness, when, eons ago, people just like us saw the light failing earlier and earlier and heard the wolves howling in the not-so-distant hills.
But thank God here inside – in our apartment buildings, on our blocks, in our neighborhoods – we still have the sense to flounce the place up a bit and lift a glass to brighter days ahead.