It’s after 5:30PM in Madison as I write this, and my Christmas Day 2017 was… rather lonely. For the second year in a row, my family had our annual Christmas get together and gift exchange on a day other than Christmas Day. Last year, it was on New Year’s Eve. This year, it was last Saturday, the 23rd. So, my Christmas Day was spent working on the computer and sending an important (for me) e-mail; exercising in the gym at work at midday; cleaning house in the afternoon; and writing this post in the evening. Yeah, I tend to live the exciting life, don’t I? (Note the sarcasm there.)
I don’t need to remind you that this is the holiday season, though I should remind you that it’s only 5 days until Christmas Day as I write this (better get that shopping done très rapide). This is the season chock full of traditions that normal people never get tired of: There’s the tree. The ornaments. The decorations. The greeting cards to send out. The shopping for presents. The carols and carolers. The ugly sweaters. And candy canes, sugar plums, and other similar stuff loaded with too much sugar.
Speaking of things loaded with too much sugar, the holiday season also has its share of TV specials and movies that are run on an annual basis and become oh so addictive to the eyes and brain. This post is about the holiday movies, specifically those that are found on the cable network Hallmark Channel. For those who don’t have cable, Hallmark Channel’s stock in trade is programming that makes the hearts of people (primarily families and older adults) go “Awww…” when they watch it. You know, just like a Hallmark greeting card. (Yes, Hallmark Channel is owned by the Hallmark greeting card company.)
Just thought I’d dedicate this post to some random holiday-related thoughts on this, 7 days after the American Thanksgiving Day. First, a very-late question for my fellow Americans: How was your Thanksgiving Day? Mine was spent with my immediate family (mother, stepfather, sisters, their families) at Mom’s place. Or to describe it more precisely, the combination lounge/kitchen on the first floor of Mom’s senior apartment building. Since our extended family is too big for Mom’s modestly-sized apartment, Mom reserved the lounge for our Thanksgiving shindig. On the good side, the lounge is pretty spacious and was perfect for our big family. However, the newness of the first all-family Thanksgiving at Mom’s apartment building didn’t give the day that “at home” feeling I always felt whenever Mom at her old house or Sis at hers hosted whatever holiday shindig we would have.
While I’m spending part of my Saturday morning bathing in the euphoria from and thinking up a post documenting my poetry performance Friday night (an awesome evening all around), I want to make a quick addition to “Allison’s Jukebox.” Have a listen to “Diamonds and Pearls,” the 1991 hit by Prince and The New Power Generation.
So, here it is, the day after Christmas 2016, and you’re probably wondering how my holiday went. Well, I didn’t do too much on Sunday. The reason for that? For only the third time in my life, though the second time in five years, I spent Christmas Day away from my family. The reason for that is that my family had to reschedule our Christmas Day get-together as my little sister’s daughters had to spend the weekend with their father/her ex-husband (every other weekend, he gets to be with them, and Christmas weekend just happened to be his next turn). And since my other sister and our mom didn’t clue me in on any of their plans for the day, I didn’t make the 2-hour trip and instead stayed here in Madison.
This post is to promote a new video I added to my relatively spare but strangely bustling YouTube channel, and it’s about the Christmas tree set up in my apartment this season. But there’s something I must confess (no, not that): I haven’t really gotten into the Christmas spirit this year.
Now, you’ve probably taken a glance at that video’s title and thought, “Gee, Allison, you have a tree and decorations set up, so you must be in the holiday spirit.” Well, I decorate my apartment each holiday season for two reasons: To let the great decorations I have in storage out of the broom closet for several weeks at the end of each year (and I have some nice ornaments), and to try to perk myself up and get into the holiday spirit.
We’re three days into 2016 now, and if you’re like me, you’ve already taken down and put back into storage your Christmas/holiday decorations (tree, ornaments, stockings, snowmen, etc.). I usually take my decorations down on New Year’s Day, a nice way to keep sort-of-busy while switching back-and-forth between college football and outdoor hockey. (Yeah, I’m a sports nut.) But since I was busy all day on January 1, I actually put away the decorations Saturday night.
A few things about taking down the tree I noticed on Saturday, thoughts that perhaps you’ve noticed as well when you put away your own decorations: First, no matter how sure you’ve taken down every single ornament from the tree, there always seems to be at least one snowflake or bobble still hanging down a hidden branch of the tree. To help alleviate that, I always make sure I never box up and stow away my decorations before the tree is put away.
As I write this, it’s been two days since the Christmas day holiday. The actual day felt sort of weird for me, in part due to this image:
That image was down the street where I live earlier on Christmas Day, and as you can tell, Madison had a green Christmas, not a white one. Matter of fact, last Christmas was a green one here as well. Yeah, I know, not everyone sees ample depths of snow on the holiday (the Southern Hemisphere for one), but we’ve been so conditioned to want some of that white stuff sitting on the ground on Christmas Day that we feel bummed out when it’s not there. The day was, however, rather chilly, or at least it was when compared to earlier in the week, when it was somewhat warm and an actual thunderstorm rolled through Madison. (What? Is this springtime?)
So, Christmas Day is fast approaching. If you’re celebrating it, how’s it going with the gift shopping? I think I’m all set regarding gifts; all that’s left is the wrapping and the fretting about how my nieces will like them… or to be more precise, how my sisters will like them. I mean, I’m sure my nieces will be cool with what I’m giving them, as they are every year; it’s just that my sisters are harder to impress (the oldest of my two sisters especially, who can deliver a pretty dirty look when she’s not impressed).
But enough about the gifts of the season. This post is devoted to the sounds of the season. Yep, I’m talking about all that holiday music that either brings joy to your heart or makes your ears bleed. Or both. It’s quite common for every department store, mall, or even supermarket to play almost non-stop music related to the holidays, virtually all of it being overdone or well-worn renditions of Christmas carols your grandparents grew up listening to.
Today marks two weeks — 14 whole days — until Christmas Day. If you’re like most people, you likely haven’t even budged when it comes to shopping for presents; if you’re like me, you have bought one or two items but worry if that’ll be enough to satiate your loved ones’ gift expectations. (“Really? You bought me this little thing? I am so going to exchange this when the stores reopen.”)
And if your family is anything like mine, you limit yourselves to drawing names out of a hat at your Thanksgiving get-together and by only for that one person. My family has been doing that for the past several years, in part so that we keep our shopping costs down and none of us will be tempted to splurge on everyone else (our dollar limit is in the $25-$30 range). That’s not to say I don’t go above and beyond on this; as the proud uncle of 4 nieces (and godparent to one of them), I still try to find a little something for each of them.
When it comes to what we want for Christmas, our family’s tastes rarely venture outside of the usual, “I always need/want this” type of gift requests: The women want something utilitarian for the kitchen or a gift from Bath & Body Works, the men will settle for work shirts and jeans from Mills Fleet Farm, or at least a gift card from that same hunting/fishing/farm equipment establishment.