Thursday, December 27, 2007

Revisiting the Christmas Catywompus

TBM (the blessid mother) doesn't read my blog too regularly; she is a busy woman. She works full time, manages the bulk of the household duties and family's finances, and is a caregiver to her beloved friend, a geriatric dog named Sampson. The other day she had an opportunity to read my blog, and it evoked some negative emotions within her.

Although she is savvy in many ways, for whatever reason, she had trouble posting her comment to my "Christmas Catywompus" blog, so I asked her about it.

After her short, but meaningful explanation, I felt very foolish about my very one-dimensional and somewhat cynical, minimization of our Christmas family gatherings. Let me explain:

One of the things I love best about coming home at Christmastime is the "Christmas-y-ness" of my parents' home. From the inside out, the house is adorned with decorations and lights. Lovingly wrapped packages in bright paper and beautiful tied ribbons wait beneath the boughs of our Christmas tree. TBM and TWO (the wise one) dedicate a lot of time to decorating the tree with lights (which must be woven around the tree branches and hundreds of ornaments placed "just so.") Wreaths TBM makes herself are on the walls, each decoration chosen with care - from the nativity candelabra to the bathroom towels. Literally every room in the lower level of the house is Christma-fied. And not in an "over the top" way, in a very classy, meticulous way. My mother isn't the type of woman who would fill her yard with as many lawn ornaments as possible; they are carefully chosen. She is kind of an artist when it comes to decorating the house.

Beyond the decorations and all of the shopping, and the wrapping, which must in an of themselves take hours, she bakes. TBM bakes and bakes and bakes. This year there were seven different kinds of cookies and candies she made. Is it any wonder the stove has kicked the bucket? It's exhausted. Yet TBM keeps on going. Why?

By Christmas Eve, when family shows up, the house is warm and welcoming, like something out of a Hallmark movie. The food is delicious and well-prepared. TBM has only a couple of wishes, that everyone enjoy the food that has been prepared, and the company - in the atmosphere she has painstakingly provided.

TBM, who has been married 27 years and has two children in their 20s, is wise in the ways of youthful ignorance so she understood how from my (single, never-married, childless) point of view I could misunderstand what the whole experience means. How TBM's gift to her family, in a way, is the Christmas experience.

Minimizing Christmas gatherings to mere buffet-style social events is deeply flawed and unfair, and even, arguably, very cynical. I may be cynical about a lot of things, but I love Christmas with my family, in my mother's beautiful house, enjoying her homemade cookies. I think I may have projected my own issues onto Christmas. I feel like during the Christmas holiday I behave like a lazy cow. But I am the only one to blame for that. Christmas, nor how the family spends the time we share together, has nothing to do with my inability to keep the cookie-fever at bay.

Actually, spending Christmas together, just chatting, enjoying the good food and drink (in moderation) and good company, is probably the way God would want it. After all, when he was making the the world and the universe, on the seventh day he didn't go bowling or skiing - he just "saw that it was good" and rested. Why wouldn't TBM want to have that same opportunity?