I am early this year procrastinating all my Christmas preparations. After I was felled by the flu or whatever it was, I was very late purchasing my tree from Hilltop Christmas Tree Farm. Mid-week after Thanksgiving my sister and I made our way out Hwy. 144. We thought perhaps we had missed the trees altogether, but no, there were still some, but my, they were petite. Perfectly shaped but small.
Which suits me fine, especially this year for some reason. In truth, I have been hankering for a tiny see-through tree like they have in the Czech Republic. Small and so light and you can carry them home by grasping onto the top and walking it through the streets like a toddler. Inside Hilltop, workers were rocking and chatting and it was if they opened up just for us.
They had been swamped right after Thanksgiving and were taking a breather. I am happy with my tree and it will mean less trips to the basement for ornaments and lights. In a week or so, my niece, Hannah, will come and do my “install.” This means my Christmas install, which is a thing now and something she is very good at. I keep telling her, I really don’t think my house is install-worthy, but she has shown me I am wrong.
Last year she hung the wreaths in the window by the gorgeous bows she made. She filled out the door swags with rosemary, magnolia and I don’t know what all. Mostly, I just like having her in my house for a little while, like when she was little. We chat and laugh, and if all she did was stick some holly around the candles on the mantel, I would be happy.
I still avoid, whenever possible, Hallmark movies, although one was on mid-day last week. It crested a new high for improbable. My friends have encouraged me to write a parody of them, but really, you can all write your own parodies better than I.
On the other hand, there is this little Christmas gift. My television, the actual TV, has been a source of bewilderment and embarrassment for my nieces and nephews for years. It is neither smart nor dumb, but one of those average TVs that falls through the cracks. But then I was visiting friends, and their TV was a thing of beauty, an object of envy.
So I bought one.
It is gigantic.
It is very smart.
It will display art, my own or the Great Masters, if I want.
And it is on, right this minute, on the YouTtube Channel, with a video called, “Christmas Coffee.” A steaming mug of coffee on close-up, pinecones and holiday scene all blurry and bokeh. Piano music is playing, mellow, with jazzy undertones, but happy and inane in the way you can enjoy it without thinking about it. I am my own Starbucks.
I was once accused of pulling pages out of magazines on how to “live a beautiful, singular life.” Pages on “creating new traditions when the old ones fade,” All that. I will cop to this, in part. I would not say my life is “beautiful,” in the way Condé Nast means. But it is comfortable, and kind. Nor is it “singular.” I need a couple of sheets of paper to list all the people who I care about, love, even.
As for new traditions, it is interesting the way we abandoned so many things during the pandemic, or when parents die, or our lives move in directions we had not seen coming. It is difficult and fraught with bad feeling and upset to spend all your energies trying to please Granny, especially when she has been gone for fifteen years. Stop it.
Unless Granny’s traditions still make you happy and warm inside. Then, by all means, continue. That Christmas afternoon hike in the woods? Of course! Unless you would rather flip through those old pictures you never seem to get to.
Me? I am going to start baking next week or so. I’m re-reading “A Christmas Carol,” which I haven’t done in a couple of years. I might get Truman Capote out, too. But mostly, I am gonna watch that big ole mug of Joe steam on my TV. Gonna enjoy all that Christmas Coffee on YouTube.