I'm not Christian, and I'm not even particularly religious, but Christmas has always had a strong pull for me. I'm not exactly sure why that is, especially as I've always kind of viewed it as a bitter sweet sort of holiday, this year more clearly than ever.
I'm the type of person who furitively listens to carols on the radio and on their playlist beginning in the end of November, and who absolutely delights in the sudden anticipated apperance of the Christmas tree vendor where there's a vacant lot for the other eleven months of the year. I do not...repeat...do NOT overdecorate. This year, I have A (singular) string of lights up on the house. No tree. No sweaters. I'm a closet Christmas fan.
I love that this time of year seems to bring the best out in people. That of all possible dates, that mid-winter seems to be the universal holiday in all cultures, and I love the sappy and improbable stories that pop up this time of year either in books, magazines, on the radio, or on TV. As cynical as I am of Big Business and the corporate culture that has sprung up around it, I believe that at its core, the Christmas season really is something special.
Christmas Eve, my mom and I drove down to visit my brother's grave; it's the first time I've been down there since the funeral. I insisted on taking Angie, even though my mom insisted that dogs weren't allowed. But Angie was his dog, and besides, what the hell were they going to do? Kick us out of a cemetary on Christmas Eve for bringing a dog?
It was as quiet there as I remember it being the last time, which is nice, and the place has gorgeous views, so I think all in all it was a good choice to have him burried there even though it's a long drive. Also, most of the graves had flowers or wreathes, so it makes me feel better that the place is well visited. My mom cried, and then I started crying. And then we hugged, and when we were done, we went around and read the other headstones and found out only one other person in the cemetary was a recent veteran, though he had served in Afghanistan. Anyway, I'm glad we visited, as I know the way down there now and I'll be able to visit more often.
Then I came home, rushed out for a few last minute gifts, and then settled in for an evening of Christmas specials. I watched 'It's a Wonderful Life' and cried like I always do, then 'Love, Actually', and cried like I always do. And then I watched 'The Grinch', during which I was blessedly tearless. Sadly, I can't blame booze for my weepiness, it's just how I get after those particular movies.
As for the sweet part of the holiday? Well, tomorrow my mom and I are going to exchange gifts and then eat pre-packaged food from Trader Joes, as it was mutually decided that we neither wanted to cook nor go out to a restaurant to eat. Then, we'll watch some more Christmas movies including, but not limited to, 'Trading Places' and 'When Harry Met Sally'.
Yes, it sucks that my brother won't be around to take part in things, yes it sucks that my dad's out of town until Wednesday, and yes, it sucks that I don't have a certain someone to help fill in the gaps. But at the heart of things, I am still able to celebrate the holiday with my family this year, small as it might be at the moment, and I still have a lot of things to feel grateful for. And I still have horribly romantic, silly, wonderful Christmas movies to make me feel all weepy and warm and fuzzy hearted.
So here's to hoping everyone else is having a good Christmas/Solstice/Kwanzaa/Hanukah/Festivus/Hogswatch, and may none of us feel guilty for the ammount of fattening food we're going to eat today, or for the flu viruses we're going to spread around to freinds and loved ones.
Happy Holidays, LJ!