Thursday, December 24, 2015
Throwing Back Christmas
Christmas Eve was once the most magical night of all for me. A live tree suddenly appeared in our otherwise pristine living room. Candy canes and cookies. Presents. And that stocking thing. How crazy was that? It didn't look like my mother's panty hose, but what the heck- let's call it a stocking if someone is going to fill that thing with candy and toys.
I believed in Santa Claus. I actually heard hooves on the roof when I was four, although by the time I was five, I felt a tiny arrow of doubt pierce my small brain. Wisely I didn't let on to the parents just in case they pulled the plug on all that gift giving stuff.
Back then the TV was a fixed item that stayed put in one room. It was too heavy to move, and you had to plan your life around what show was on. "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" appeared in early December often on my friend Joy's birthday. If she had a party or a sleepover at her house, everything stopped while we all watched "Rudolph." Now you can catch the whole shootin' match on youtube.
Christmas with the parents continued deep into my adult life, but now that they are gone, we struggle to reinvent tradition. This year my daughter and her boyfriend arrived at 3 a.m. having driven straight through from New Orleans. My grown son, also home, seems to have developed an addiction to the "Andy Griffith Show." He carries his lap top from room to room, and suddenly, instead of making gumbo, I find myself captivated by an impossibly adorable and tiny Ron Howard asking "Why, Pa?"
I am lucky that my children are home, and I remind myself not to dwell on our lack of an "Aunt Bee" around the house. (Never mind those deserted beer bottles popping up like mushrooms everywhere, and that alarming pile of dishes in the sink.)
My parents' house was always neat and tidy. Mine...is not. But we still watch the old movies and TV shows, and milk them for meaning. Last night my daughter chose "Rudolph." Not a favorite really, but for old times' sake, we pulled the DVD out and preceded to over analyze. Hmmmmm. Was this just a metaphor for a mixed up little gay deer coming out to his controlling father and mean boy friends? And after all these years how could I have missed Yukon's sled dogs included a dachshund and some sort of purple poodle?
Nowadays every Christmas is different, and traditions are shaky as we meld our past with the present, all the while making new memories. Hopefully funny ones. And even though this contentious country is supposed to be about freedom of religion, Christmas has always bulldozed its way in, taking no prisoners and leaving many of us feeling like we don't belong. This may be why I take comfort in Rudolph's words when he, Yukon, and Hermey, the dentist-elf stood before the lion king and introduced themselves this way:
"Well, sir. We're just a couple of misfits from Christmas town."
Aren't we all?
P.S. No matter what your tradition, DC Rocks has misfit options for you: IOTA will be screening old Star Wars movies both this evening and Christmas night, and for the musically inclined head over to JV's for Dave Chappell tonight, Jr Cline tomorrow and jingle on...