I am halfway to 34, and this coming December 24th will be my 34th Christmas Eve, which is how I measure Christmases. For me, Christmas has never been so much about lists and presents and trees as it has been about making those lists and anticipating those presents underneath that tree. Which means that, for me, the essence of Christmas is the breathless hope of wishing on the brightest star in the sky and believing it might come true. That singular moment of potential.
Christmas Eve occurs before the fire at my parents’ house, surrounded by my mother’s sister and her family, as well as any friends who happen to wassail their ways to our home. It’s full of egg nog and sugar cookies and chances are there’s enough nog it gets blurrier as the evening continues in fits of discarded wrapping paper and torn asunder envelopes, but one thing stands out. One thing always stands out.
I have to admit that in the past few years, I’ve become less interested in Christmas and holiday festivities. I’d say it began two years ago, the first Christmas I spent alone in Hollywood, but really I think it started before that. Thing is, it’s happened, in a way, to all holidays, at least for me; I’ve always been the sort of person who gets totally excited about doing things right up until the very moment you tell me I have to do them, at which point I get all stubborn like the Taurus I am and dig in my heels and refuse to budge. Thanksgiving, anymore, only makes me wonder why more people aren’t grateful every day of the year, for example, and Christmas? Christmas, just lately, only reminds me I live in a society where people shoot people in a Toys ‘R Us and frenzied shoppers trample employees at Walmart.
This particular Christmas seems particularly turbulent, in fact, mainly because of the economy. I read the comics page of the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning, and no less than three of the comics contained “jokes” about the current “financial crisis.” The headlines are all over the place today; jobless claims are way up, while consumer spending is way down, and most analysts say we’re just in for tougher times ahead.
Still, I can’t help but feel some hope in that.