I’m late appreciating the joys of the season this year, mostly because I’m still just liking the sensation of not being sick. But sometimes I also think I’m just not doing Christmas right.
I remarked to a friend on Facebook this morning that I’m unsuited to modern life. It’s sadly true. You see, I know I should accomplish all my Christmas shopping with the click of a button, especially taking into account the transatlantic requirements of many of my presents, which mean things have to be procured early and packaged up and brought to the post office and so on.
But I like shopping. Actual real shopping, where you walk around a store looking at things and waiting for inspiration to strike. Of course, there are only a few people I know well enough to have an item call out their name to me, but when it does, it’s very satisfying. And then I buy it and I bring it home and wrap it and then I put it in a box and address it and bring it to the post office and they charge me and arm and a leg for the pleasure of it. And it all takes about a hundred years, but that’s how I do my Christmas shopping. Because when you buy something online you have to know what you want to buy the person before you go looking for it. What sort of shopping is that? That’s how you buy Lego for nephews, yes, but not random items for beloved friends.
In America, many people like to make a card using a family photograph. This is very easy to do, whether you go professional or amateur. You can even print them at your local CVS, for heaven’s sake. And it’s a lovely way to keep everyone up to date with your family’s progress (whether you choose to include the traditional “newsletter” or not). However, I do not do this. It may be hill upon which I have chosen to die as a non-American, but I can only imagine all my English and Irish aunties saying, as they opened it “Oh, a photo card. That’s very American.” And then they would just write me off forever as one who had embraced mammon. (America is mammon. Didn’t you know?)
And so, instead, because I know that they do like to see what we look like from year to year and I pretty much only send cards to those people I’m not in touch with on Facebook, I print out some photos and put them in with my low-tech old-fashioned nicely non-religion-specific holiday card. (I like the Unicef ones that Ikea sells.) Because that’s completely different.
Our tree is lying on its side in the front room because its trunk turns out to be too fat for my Christmas tree stand. I’m sure this will be remediated any time soon. Or we could just decorate it where it lies, horizontal.
In Ireland (and the UK) families go to the pantomime at Christmas. We didn’t go every year, but I do have fond memories of Milky Moos and strawberry bonbons in the front lobby of the Gaiety, of Maureen Potter (the Irish grand dame of panto) making a rhyme with my name, of a big day out with my cousins. In the US people take their kids to a performance of The Nutcracker, but it was a long time before we understood that this was The Thing you do at Christmas, and we still haven’t managed to actually do it. There’s a shortened version (called the Mini-Nut, isn’t that cute?) put on nearby, but once again I missed the tickets for it. Maybe next year, right?
Ah well. I sent a box of pressies to Ireland on Friday, I mailed some cards, I’ve done most of the present-buying necessary, I’ve made my cake, and yesterday I whipped up some of Emily’s mincemeat, which already smells amazing. Spince mies here we come.
We’ll muddle through, as always.