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Christmas: what was I thinking?

December 18, 2009

This year, we are having Christmas at our house. And I now see that Christmas is very tricky. It turns out that as the host, I am also the Christmas administrator, art director, chef and entertainment coordinator. There is a whole, tiny industry happening in my home — without the elves.

I am about to launch a business whose only customers are my family. My business will have a short, unprofitable life, punctuated by flashes of panic and moments of pleasure. To be considered are the lighting, the decoration, the moods of everyone present, and whether I look tired or mostly cheerful.

There’s how and when to give the gifts, not opening them too hastily or casually. There are the children not to disappoint. There is the story of Santa to be told again or dropped, and the story of Jesus to be gotten to, if perfunctorily. All of this around the merriment of eating, drinking, gift opening and singing.

I’m still scratching my head about how we got from a baby with no place to lay his newborn head to this rock-concert frenzy we’re in, but I’m complicit. These are the imperatives of Christmas framed by capitalist logic: to be merry and carelessly generous for one steady week.  It suits us fine.

I like feeling flushed with generosity. I like the decorating, the merriment. I like how my daughter gets clued in — recognizing that the Santa at the library is but a poor impostor — but not so clued in that she doesn’t still hear the reindeer landing on the roof.

I like revisiting the Christmas story. I like that if we chose, we could relinquish all the craziness and reclaim the humble origins of the holiday. I mean, if we had to.

Cut from a longer version published 12/23/07 in Chicago Tribune 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. gloria permalink
    December 24, 2009 7:41 am

    Hi Michele. I enjoyed this article, particularly as I am late figuring out everything that needs to be done tomorrow before Christmas eve! Merry Christmas and I hope the festivities at your house are full of joy and merriment!

  2. December 24, 2009 3:35 pm

    Thank you! Yes, it is a curious deadline and we always forget how much time it will take. Each year I vow to start earlier the next and I never do. I hope you pull it off and have a lovely, sparkling Christmas too.

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