I’m feeling the pressure of the upcoming holiday, but I’m fighting it. There’s less than a week to go, but I’m getting a handle on things. A few days ago, I felt completely unprepared for Christmas, but now things are looking OK.
I admit I’m behind on my Christmas shopping. And I just got my tree at the local YMCA. (We haven’t put it up yet. It’s on its side, in front of my garage, waiting to be raised in the living room, probably tomorrow.) I do have some lights up on the outside of my house. A long string of white lights along the edge of the roof and another one around this large bush next to my front door. It’s not much – especially compared to some of my neighbors who hire companies to come and decorate their houses -- but at least I have something up. Usually I do something in my backyard, too, but I haven’t done that yet. And, to tell you the truth, Christmas lights always look a little funny on palm trees. But that’s Christmas in southern California. Every Christmas is a “Green Christmas.”
I do have some poinsettias – “the Bob Goulet of botany,” in Truman Capote’s immortal jibe – on the front porch. And the Tiny Goddess has decorated the inside of the house beautifully. She’s done the mantelpiece with garland and lights, and she’s set out bowls of little Santas. I’m sure we’ll do more when we have people over for Christmas Eve dinner.
I have gotten a couple of presents for my family members, so I’m not totally behind the 8-Ball, but I still feel that I’m not really ready for Christmas this year. It’s a combination of things, mostly good, getting in the way. First of all, around here, we’ve been living in anticipation of the birth of our grandson, not Christmas. He – Calder Leigh Robinson, who arrived on December 12th – is our Christmas present. Everything else is semi-insignificant, compared to him.
And, of course, I’ve been working hard on my new novel, which I’m very excited about and very worried about, obsessed as I am with making it better than WHAT IT WAS LIKE. And I’ve been doing these blogs, which I enjoy (because, in part, they’re easier than novel-writing, at the same time that they help support my first book, so they’re productive), but they take up time, too. I’ve promised to do Tuesdays and Fridays, and I’m sticking to that deal so far.
And it’s fundamentally different, now that my “kids” are adults and are out of the house. When you have little kids, Christmas is a really big deal – for the adults and the children. I remember the fun of decorating the house with the kids ... buying toys and hiding them ... leaving out cookies for Santa (and carrots for his reindeer) ... putting together toys once the kids went to sleep. I remember one Christmas Eve when I was up until three in the morning, putting together a Playmobil dollhouse for my daughter. It was fun, the way young parents have fun doing the most ordinary things. I do miss those frantic days.
One thing that will certainly kick any trace of Scrooge out of me is a little Charles Dickens. I’m seeing my best friend play The Ghost of Christmas Present in a production of “A Christmas Carol” at A Noise Within, a prominent classic repertory theatre company in nearby Pasadena, on Saturday night. I’m a huge Dickens fan and re-read the story just a few months ago. What a story – and what a storyteller!! The transformation of Scrooge is one of the most moving “character arcs” in all of literature and as representative of Dickens’ “message” as anything in his writing. If Scrooge can find light at the end of his journey, what can I complain about?
And if that’s not enough, I’ll watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” again this Christmas. That always gets to me – “To my big brother George! The richest man in town!” (Even typing it brings a lump to my throat.) If you don’t think I’m serious about my love for this movie, why do you think I named the beloved bar in WHAT IT WAS LIKE – “Bailey’s?”
The Tiny Goddess keeps asking for my Christmas list, but I tell her that I have everything. I’ve always been a very lucky person, but this year was a real peak for me: the Book and the Baby ... the Book and the Baby ... the Book and the Baby.
Clearly, Christmas came early for me this year.