Even in "this economy" I find myself enjoying Christmas -- and not "the holidays" -- more each year. I enjoy it not in any reason for the season kind of way but more in the way that is woven through with pleasant memories, especially those rooted in optimism that leave me feeling, well, optimistic.
There seems to be something of an arch in my life with Christmas reaching its absolute nadir in my 50th year (a season tainted with death, loss and pessimism) and slowly ascending with each year. I won't quote Cavify's "Candles", but there is certainly much of that sentiment at this point.
For countless years, I dismissed Christmas as a crass, pointless system to support capitalism. It is still very much that, yet I take unusual comfort in things associated with Christmas -- not things I buy or am given this year but those from the past.
So, a couple examples":
* Sometime in the mid-1970s I bought the glass reindeer at the long-defunct Midwest department store John A. Brown. I purchased it with visions of it in my first urban and urbane pied-a-terre in a coastal city where I would be buying presents at Macy's when it was local department store not the company store of the nation. By the time I actually had my first abode, I thought I was far too sophisticated to have such a piece of schlock in my home.
* The tall man on the right holds not special aesthetic meaning on its own. However, my sister discovered it two years ago (on that above mentioned worst Christmas ever) when we were dismantling our parents' home. It was nestled in the back of the mud room closet and was something my mother bought in preparation for the last Christmas she was alive, 2003. She was too disoriented by the time the holiday arrived to remember to send it to me. Getting it three years later made it all the more meaningful. The sack it came in was from a store two blocks from a store two blocks away from the last house I lived in before moving to California. I know that she was not so disoriented that she went there hoping to find me in my old above, but I wonder if she drove by my old house, thinking of the times when we had Christmases together there.
As mentioned earlier, I oddly associate the Beatles with Christmas. Forty years ago, I went to the premier of Yellow Submarine with my best friend, thinking we had seen the most progressive form of animation to descend on humanity.
Finally, I share the introduction to the show I am watching as I write this -- 1988's Pee Wee's Christmas Special. It's a glorious mix of sweetness, wackiness and creativity. And, since one of my presents this year was a Dremel, it's not out of the question that next year there will be a Junk Thief Junk Shack Holiday Hootinanny.