Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Facebook Salvaged Christmas for Me

Until a few days ago, I was ready to gladly hand over my Christmas to the Grinch. He wouldn't have had to steal it; hey, I was willing to scratch the whole damned Yule season permanently from my crazy to-do list of a life.

My mom's increasing need for my care (which I consider a labor of the utmost love); a recent rear-ending of my car (banging ME up, too, pretty good); friends whom I have missed, but put reluctantly on the back burner; and my practice, a calling more than just a job.

All of the sudden, "holiday cheer" and 2010's end were staring down at me. All of the sudden, it all seemed too much. I was let down, irritable, and sad.

This mindset startled me--someone who normally couldn't wait, immediately following Thanksgiving, to haul out decorations. There are heirloom stockings, embellished with each family member's name, that my mother lovingly knitted over many decades. Ornaments, both contemporary and antique, waited for almost-prayerful placement on the tree I browbeat my son into carrying into the house. A macrame Christmas tree hanging, which my mom got as a gift and to which she cleverly fastened miniature lights, has always shown up in the dining room window facing the street.

This year, it seemed like one more pesky task for which I didn't have the energy or the inclination. After a day of dodging a barrage of Christmas carols on the radio stations, I came home, and said to Mom the unthinkable, "I hate Christmas!"

Mom did one of her wise-motherly soft contradictions, "No, you don't!" Even though I was in a prickly mood, Mom is one person with whom I prefer not to do battle, because I do so, with at least one person, on nearly a daily basis. When I'm home, I like to feel I don't have to struggle. I let the conversation drop. I did, however, rant to my Facebook pals, and am glad now that I did. Elizabeth suggested that I "go with" my feelings of angst if that's what I was experiencing. At first that was my thought, but my emotional memories weren't quite ready to succumb. Donna suggested I get a table-top display and "call it good." David reminded me of the "spirit that lasts throughout the year." Others suggested music and wine. The point was that my FB friends--old classmates from Burbank High--stepped up to give me support I needed more than I'd realized.

One night, after a particularly heart-tugging client session, I wended my way through the Burbank streets, saw some warm light displays (including that of my son and daughter-in-law), and was suddenly moved. I regretted my stubbornness about setting up our tree and for allowing the everyday rush to displace the joy I usually feel this season.

Out came the stockings and the window hanging. On the fireplace mantle, I placed two small creches I'd gotten as a little girl in Sunday School back in Kenmore, NY. In place of the big tree, I used my Grandma McKale's electric tree. It's about eighteen inches high, solid ceramic, and lights up with tiny colorful bulbs. When Grandma flew out here from Florida in the early Seventies to live here, she firmly refused to stow it with the baggage. It rode, securely packed in a box, on her lap to its new home. When I bring it out every year, it calls to mind the sweetly stubborn lady who was Grandma. Plugging it in this night, it was more than "good"--it was "wonderful." Once my task was complete, I took my friend Mary Ellen's advice and opened some Gazela Vinho Verde and toasted what will now be a "Merry Little Christmas."

Thank you, friends. Now I don't mind the Christmas carols at all. In fact, they're quite nice.