(The following was my Undercurrents column for Dec. 3, 2006)
We’re in the thick of it now. The Halloween costumes and decorations are packed away, the Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed, and we’re starting the final stretch toward the greatest holiday on earth. Here are some random thoughts as we celebrate the season.
I’m a sucker for the sappy Christmas songs — just not that one about the Christmas shoes. That’s the Nicholas Sparks book of Christmas songs, guaranteed to make me change the station.
Two of the radio pre-sets in my truck are now on local stations that play nothing but Christmas songs. Also, it’s pretty much the only month of the year those stations play in my truck, but whatever. I appreciate them right now.
It’s a joke around my house that one of my Christmas traditions is watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” while one of the kids’ traditions is watching me cry while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Let’s not dig too deeply into that, however, and just accept it as the way things are.
On the other hand, my post-bypass emotional state being what it is, this could be a record-setting year for the old waterworks — not that we’d want to change that, would we? Isn’t that the lesson of the movie?
We generally decorate our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend, but we got an extra week’s jump on it this year, as we were planning to visit relatives during the long holiday. Over the years, we’ve collected lots of Hallmark ornaments, prompting one young visitor to laugh last week at our “toy-covered” tree.
It’s true: Star Trek, Barbie, superhero, Peanuts, fairies and other fanciful figurines fill the branches, nestled among the colorful lights. Some of them light up or make noises or wish you a Merry Christmas. It’s a fun tree.
By contrast, I suppose my mother’s Christmas tree is much more “grownup,” as it’s covered with crystal and glass, and illuminated by white bulbs. We helped Mom decorate it on Thanksgiving. It rotates on a stand, which can be disconcerting after too many eggnogs, but at least none of the ornaments talk to you.
Finally, another favorite moment of mine early in the season is hearing my daughter squeal with disgust at the first few notes of the “Partridge Family Christmas Card” album. (“To you and all your family, your neighbors and your friends, may all your days be happy with joy that never ends. May peace and love surround you at Christmas time and all the whole year through.”)