Dead Christmas Tree Bodies

All the dead Christmas tree bodies lying on the side of the road make me giddy. It’s a perverse antisocial vestige of my decade-long holiday loathing stage. I get the same euphoric rush when I cross the finish line in a marathon. Each Christmas tree slumped next to a trash can feels like a little victory. That used up evergreen screams, “It’s done, I made it!”

I’m a believer that when Christmas is over, it’s over. I want everything pulled down, put away and dragged to the curb. By December 28th I get panicky and claustrophobic about all things Christmas in the same way I feel while ripping off layers of clothing during a hot flash.

This obsession is not a result of tortured childhood Christmases.  My memories of the season as a kid are favorable. We decorated the tree on my Dad’s birthday and the day itself was elegant and civilized. A covert interior decorator, my mom had Christmas down. The beauty she created for us was nurturing and serene.

In contrast, my family’s holiday season is three months long beginning in early October with an event gauntlet that includes six birthdays, one major school carnival, Halloween, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I wish I could say that it was my deep-rooted anti-consumerism or religious beliefs that fueled my Bah Humbug-ness.  In reality it was garden-variety parenting, over-extending myself in all directions and The Magical Being issue. The three forces flowed together to start a slow drip water torture that brought on my Christmas madness.

The road back to sanity began three years ago. I started grooming my family for a major holiday renovation that was to be built on embracing volunteering and experiences over stuff.  When I first took on the project I was a little heavy-handed with the message and I sounded more grouchy than empowering.  I had not completely processed my guilt for messing with Christmas, so my kids heard more crazy-mom rant than the join-my-holiday-utopia invitation. The true turning point came two years ago when we ditched all presents and spent Christmas in Death Valley National Park with dear friends hiking in the most exquiste landscapes. Everyone got it – experiences and friendship trumps stuff any day!

Matthew and I agree that this past year was our most even-keeled holiday season. Around mid-September my eye-tic began to flair but I sloughed it off. I blew through a couple of birthdays and an Octoberama with a genuine smile on my face, a few more birthdays and Thanksgiving – smooth sailing.  We had a family Christmas discussion early on with the kids and we decided to go present-less. There would still be a tree and ornaments, cookies, volunteering, lots of gatherings and we would spend Christmas Day at Enchanted Rock.  I had my doubts, but for the first time our Christmas plans unfolded without a hitch. It only took 22 years.

End Note:  For the full blown account of my history as a Magical Being visit my prior post, The Magical Being Business

What Would You Say

I push open the restroom door and stop short as I enter a parallel universe. My daughter Georgia with her slender body and long auburn hair, had ten minutes prior, entered the same door. I expect to see her at the sink washing her hands. Instead there is a tall, lanky, sixty-year-old woman standing at the mirror brushing her long grey hair back into a pony tail.

We all know the feeling but it is so hard to describe. It’s as if you get caught in a tear in your ordinary day and the next moment suddenly contains infinite possibilities and realities. It felt like I was meeting Georgia as a sixty-year-old woman – a woman I will probably not know. She was an adult and I was younger. Like all those rare flashes, the seam closed quickly but the sensation remained.

We had just climbed the steep staircase from the bottom of The Cave with No Name. My friend Shelly and I had taken my twins and their friends to tour the cave and later attend a solstice celebration concert. There were about a hundred or so particpants but our tour was just our small party. The concert was an eclectic mix of instruments and traditions, poetry and singing. Fifteen minutes of the concert was performed in the darkest dark.

The experience had softened boundaries. It seemed completely natural to tell the old woman about my impressions. As we began to speak, Georgia emerged from her stall. The two stood next to each other and the physical resemblance was bizzarrely uncanny in spite of the 50-year age gap. Georgia gave me a quick hug and ran off to meet her sister and friends playing in the field, oblivious to any shift in reality.

The old woman laughed at the notion. We both agreed how interesting, and strangely important, it would be to speak to our young selves from across our almost completed lives. I asked her what she would say. She paused and very matter of factly offered this advice, “Don’t marry the handsome one, marry the smart one. The smart one will try harder.” She looked me in the eyes and walked out the door.

What would I say if I met the twelve-year-old me and only had a second to say something important before the crack in time closed. Would it make a difference? Could I craft a message that she could even understand? Would I just blank out like I did in the restroom when I asked myself the question. Or would I say something like, “it takes a while, but it gets way better.”