in my childhood, i loved christmas. LOVED it! not an unusual declaration, i admit, but necessary to establish context. i lived on a street where all the houses decorated for the holiday, and we would have lines and lines of cars coming through our block to view the lights and lawn displays. this tradition continues to this day. it was a child's fantasy--lights and carolers and music and people--it only became a pain once i started driving, and i realized that it would take me 20 minutes every time i tried to leave the house or return to it during viewing hours.
|a recent pic of my childhood home decorated for christmas--my brother lives there now.|
but christmas, as i got older, began to bear the burden of solemnity. here we were, supposedly celebrating the birth of jesus, with his humble beginnings and all, and the overriding concern for me was whether i would get everything on my list! cue up the greatest tool the catholic church has to guarantee continued observance: guilt. you see, as i got older, i began to think that maybe i was celebrating christmas wrong, and that i should be in mass at midnight rather than forcing myself to sleep so that santa could descend through the chimney. this conflict of interest never failed to put a pall on my enjoyment as the years wore on--it was as if the baby jesus himself was standing naked and shivering on our doorstep while inside we opened presents in the warmth of our upper middle class prosperity.
then, as an adult, it changed up a bit. though the block continued to decorate, our family fragmented, with me and my brother both living away from the house. we would come over for christmas, but now there was only one or two presents under the tree for us instead of a windfall! it just wasn't the same! i wasn't aware that my parents were any less prosperous, so what happened? did they love us less? did they care less? i remember my mother telling me once that she never knew what to get for me. how could this be? if anyone would know, wouldn't it be her??? you know, the woman who gave birth to me?
oh, how the world shatters!
after a while, the holiday became...less. we all started opening our presents on christmas eve, so christmas day became this anticlimactic void of a day. i remember how the first time this happened i thought that perhaps there would be a "holdover present" that would appear under the tree for me to open on christmas day, but alas, i would wake up to see nothing more than the previous nights torn wrappings.
around the time the holiday became less, i moved from san diego to los angeles, so it was actually an effort to come down for christmas, and i began to consider whether or not i could just skip the whole damn thing...
to be continued...
For Part 2, please go here.