Christmas pining: a matter of difference
It was a mixed marriage.
Those did happen.
The tall and short of it.
She said violin
He called fiddle.
He preferring plays by Shakespeare.
She adoring Robert Burns poetry.
She a competitive bridge player reading books by experts for plans.
He bluffing each bridge hand with a poker face
It’s the opposites attract thing.
She dipped and flowed through ballroom dancing.
He allemande left through dance squares.
Together, they choreographed life.
She was all traditional: deep Williamsburg green with red velvet bows, white candles, and holly branches. Classic. elegant.
He was multicolored stings of lights on the house, wide red ribbon wrapped on porch posts like candy canes – with a lighted Santa’s head floating disemboweled – or strangled - by extension chords.
She was practical and fair (to the penny) about giving presents so as “not to show favorites”.
One big one and stocking ones was enough.(Don’t be greedy.)
And “presents should always be something you really wanted but wouldn’t buy for yourself.”
He always placed an apple and an orange in each stocking.
As a farm kid, those were luxury items since they weren’t grown on the farm.
Important you remember where you came from – and what’s important.
And NEVER socks or underwear as Christmas presents. EVER. (more childhood memories?)
Pacing through life differently, but pulling together.
One thing held in agreement: a pine tree is not a Christmas tree.
(Nor are silver aluminum ones.)
We grew pines: sappy, sticky, bushy.
It would be a Douglas fir:
Totally different smell.
Totally different soft short needles.
Totally special: from a different state.
With branches spaced apart, so hanging ornament could swing and be seen.
But the decorating styles.
She carefully placed the heavy silver icicles on the tree one by one while humming traditional carols.
He danced with the kids and flung globs of icicles at the tree: whole handfuls. All wildly shrieking, “Ho, ho, ho!”
Despite the cultural norm, we never went to church on Christmas.
“Leave room for all those who only go then.”
God knows who we are.
We’d pack into the car and drive to the country.
Small frame house with fireplace and wood stove for heat.
Water drawn by bucket from the well.
And a long way to walk in the cold if you needed the bathroom.
(There was a chamber pot under the kids’ beds at night, but no. Everyone would know.)
After the car was unpacked and fires started, we’d go sit outside.
In the cold,
On concrete steps or old rough benches.
He’d look up and say, “Look at all the stars. Couldn’t be a finer church than this. This is the way it was back then.”
And we’d sing a carol or two.
Loudly and joyfully.
No neighbors near and the animals didn’t mind.
Now, I pace preparations so it’s calm just before.
Select the perfect apple and orange for each stocking.
Carefully drape the mylar icicles one by one on the tree.
And then go outside late Christmas night.
The cool air.
The smell of pines.
The stars as the roof of the grandest cathedral.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge