Christmas Plans

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Once again, I am running away for Christmas. I’m going to visit a good friend in Arizona who does not pay any attention to Christmas and we are taking a road trip to Moab, which promises to be spectacular. She says it is like the interior of Australia, which is one of my very favorite, if not my absolute favorite, places in the whole world. I love the desert, the red earth and sand, the scruffy grasses and bushes, the smell of aridity, and night skies with no light pollution. And there will be no Christmas lights and no carols. A welcome emptiness.

I haven’t skipped Christmas altogether, though. I bough a little table tree in the supermarket – a light green Lemon Cypress (Cupressius Macrocarpa “Goldcrest.”) It smells of lemon. Its native home is California’s Monterey peninsula and the tag assures me it can grow to a hundred feet tall and twenty feet wide. But not on my coffee table! If it promises not to die first, I will give it a place in my garden and keep it pruned to a reasonable size.imagesThere are ornaments left over from other years. A little red and green garland, tiny angels, paper flowers, a little teddy bear and beads with thread hangers. If the cats leave it alone it will be beautiful for the whole month.

I can’t cope with a full-sized tree and haven’t had one for thirty years. The trees of my childhood were huge. My father chopped three feet off the top so that it would fit in the living room and the ornaments were to scale. He fussed and bossed his way through decorating the tree; the whole experience was highly unpleasant. Then he carefully stacked the presents so that they appeared to be many more than there were. We were not allowed to go near for fear the pile, and the pretense, would collapse. And this was during the day; I won’t even mention what the nights were like.

After I was married, I did have a tree. It was more modest than my father’s trees and it had no lights and only birds as ornaments. I collected more and more birds and it got more beautiful each year. And every year I made ginger snaps cut out with bird-shaped cookie cutters.

I made a big mistake, though – one year I let in a solitary giraffe, and then things went wild. I loved the decorations the kids made – hand-drawn Santas, linked paper garlands, and one year store-bought figures they painted the day before Christmas. The birds definitely were outnumbered. But we never had lights and the tree never got taller. It was our tree, not a facsimile of my father’s tree.

I don’t know if I will listen to carols on Pandora: some years I do, others I can’t tolerate them.  I know by now that my reaction to a holiday is different each year, and so I just go with what I feel.

One other thing – I don’t give or receive presents. I never got what I wanted during the day-Christmas. One year I asked for books, and guess how many I got? None. And presents for the night-Christmas were horrific. So I happily give presents at random times during the year and that works well for me and the people who get surprised.

I’d love to hear what others do to get through Christmas as best as possible. We can get ideas from each other and we still have plenty of time to plan.