I have been resistant to Christmas all season. I have been balky and reluctant and generally a Scrooge since Thanksgiving. It wasn’t deliberate, but if I have learned anything in my twenty-nine years (y’all are too polite to call me out on that during Birthday Week, right?) it’s that you have to actually feel your feelings, whether you want to or not, before they’ll let you go.
And I did. And they did. Is it a Christmas miracle? I don’t know. But Christmas has been chipping away at my resistance. And Christmas is winning. Here are a few of its more clever moves in getting through to me this year:
1) Mystery Build: I got a surprise present last week. From Mystery Build. How cool is that? It’s my free kit for the 2012 contest. Please don’t be jealous; I’ll let you hold it, and I might even tell you what movie I already picked out for my sculpture. Want to unearth my childlike wonder? Send me a shiny tin full of materials to make something, out of the blue. Well played, Mystery Build. Well played, Christmas.
2) Raleigh Christmas lights. From the tree on Fayetteville Street, to the tree on Capitol Square, to the sleek white lights outlining all the downtown buildings, to the candles in the window in Oakwood, to the lit-up skyline. I love every bit of it.
3) The Parti Tree: When we were in graduate school, we decorated a little tiny tree with little tiny architectural models. Truth be known, most of those were models our deranged professor had rejected, then ridiculed, then yelled at. We tied little red ribbons around them, and gave them some love, and hung them on our tree. We made garlands out of draft dots and Dan carved an angel out of basswood. It was our own version of the Charlie Brown tree. I still have all those models. And that tree will come out every Christmas. I put it up last week. I love every bit of that, too.
4) Wrapping presents while watching Elf and Christmas Vacation. Always funny. Always. This year I tried to get fancy and wrapped everything in shiny red paper, with strips of New York Times, and striped ribbons, and paper flowers. It was a moderate success.
5) Christmas music: anything by Elvis, Josh Groban singing O Holy Night, any choir singing For Unto Us A Child Is Born, and children singing anything, anywhere. The ones that unravel me are the old ones. Lo, How A Rose, and In the Bleak Midwinter. and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day: ”And in despair I bowed my head, ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said. For hate is strong, and mocks the song of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men. Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor doth he sleep, the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.” Oh my gracious merciful heavens. How do you not sing along at the top of your lungs in the car to that?
6) The Christmas Pageant: Last night was the church Christmas pageant. I will not miss it for anything. It’s the purest, happiest, most sincere expression of Christmas joy I have ever seen. Last night my godson was (and is) an angel. The angels hide up in the balcony until it’s their turn to yell, “GLORYTOGODINTHEHIGHESTANDONEARTHPEACEGOODWILLTOWARDSMEN!” While they’re waiting their turn, they all pull pieces of tinsel off their halos and sprinkle them down onto the audience. The preschoolers march in as the stable animals. One of them was wearing a giant set of stuffed horns, Texas cattle style. They kept sliding down into his eyes and he would turn too fast and accidentally poke the little pink pig beside him. Everyone was perfect.
7) First Frost: shout out to Fullsteam, I had the First Frost last night in Saxapahaw, and it was the best tasting thing I’ve had this whole Christmas season. I’ll let y’all know if anything manages to top that. But I’ll be surprised.
8 ) Kids in Christmas outfits: I sat next to my goddaughter before the pageant last night, who was patiently coloring and burbling out a narrative of everything going on around us. I got the important parts. She was wearing a red dress with gingerbread men all around the collar, with her ringlet curls and giant red Christmas bow. What’s more cheerful than I kid in a Christmas outfit?
9) Birthday presents: Veronica gave me an early birthday present last night. She told me I had to open it in the Haw River Ballroom, for good luck. I unwrapped it under the Chatham County Line Christmas tree. It’s an Airstream tea towel. It is dripping with good luck. It is the first thing I will put in my Van Down By The River, as soon as I can afford a teeny-tiny piece of Down By The River for my very own Airstream someday.
10) Christmas carolers: I generally find Christmas Caroling to be a little awkward, when you’re the one getting caroled at. Are you supposed to sing along? Listen politely? Offer them wassail? I don’t have any wassail. Tonight our neighborhood carolers came by. When they got to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” my neighbor Tripp yelled my name every time instead instead of Christmas: ”We Wish You A Merry Katherine.”
And you know what? I suddenly am.