Spotify happened. First up was Larnelle Harris. With this, Kyle (husband) turned nostalgic recalling holiday drives to visit his grandparents. It was a sweet moment, and then he lost me at “Sandy Patty.”
Next was Jewel’s first Christmas album, which included Kyle’s rendition of her weird vibrato. This induced the silent, mouth-gaping, head back laughter that makes your belly wiggle up and down. “Ave Maria” was a definite high point – not just because we like to stop what we’re doing to straight-up perform it, but because when Kyle went for the high note, Maryn (nine-year-old daughter) let him down gently and under her breath with, “Nice try, Dad.”
And finally, the three of us have concluded that the song “From a Distance” makes God sound like someone who’s never been to earth but definitely hovers over all creation from a space station like a creeper or the government.
(Music yet to come: Celine Dion’s once-live television version of “O Holy Night” will be You-Tubed several times. I will force-feed this to my family and weep at my computer before explaining to the nine-year-old that God injects his own singing voice directly into a human voice box in certain portions of songs. Kyle will also unpack some sort of Gaither CD so we can hear that tenor named Dave vocally ascend to heaven. We’ll then stare at each other in disbelief, rewind to the key-change part, shake our heads again, and move on).
P.S. Please introduce us to some new Christmas music.
DISCUSSING OF TRADITIONS
One of our Christmas traditions is discussing our Christmas traditions. There are several, many of which actually revolve around the true meaning of Christmas. But for some reason, the tradition that gets the most conversation air play is opening a present on Christmas Eve (always pajamas). This was mentioned no less than three times before decorating was finished.
“Elf” will be viewed again soon and Maryn may re-try syrup on several food items while quoting Will Ferrell’s lines verbatim. Kyle and I did briefly discuss the possibility of adding an ugly sweater party/contest to our annual viewing of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” At Kyle’s suggestion, “The Family Stone” has been added to our movie list because Diane Keaton is my best friend.
It never felt easy to get close to my grandmother, but she had a tenderness about her if you caught her in the right moments. I recently calculated that if her love was proportionate to the number of Christmas ornaments she made for me, she loved me approximately 14, which must be a lot. It seems she somehow single-handedly adorns my tree every Christmas even though she’s been gone for several years now. It’s poetic and odd and lovely. Thank you, Eva.
I also enjoy the ornaments I made as a child and the ones my child has been making for us the past several years. Mine border on hideously ugly. However, I’m still in touch with the little me who made them so I treasure each one in order to treasure her. And Maryn’s creations? They’re delightful and perfect, well, ‘cause it’s your kid, you know? Who says Rudolph can’t have three eyes?
Then there are the ornaments my mom bought for our little family, primarily in the first several years of its existence. These are like little battle/victory markers – First they usher in memories of how desperate our marriage and parenting once was and then they bring gratitude for how sweet it is all becoming. Our Christmas tree seems to cradle our story.
This year I noticed an ornament that found its way to me from my parents’ stash. Maybe I have it now because they’re divorced? You know, Christmas ornaments are one of those anchor things no one really knows what to do with when families break apart. This one is an elaborate European version of the nativity (think luxurious renaissance painting). I was feeling particularly combative toward that one this year – I put it back in the box after announcing I would not be perpetuating the dominant but false assertion that Jesus and his crew were pale-skinned white folks with golden robes.
HAPPY THE DOG
In usual form, Happy the dog watched us decorate from a pile of blankets and cared zero percent. She did show signs of life when I slipped and dropped a box directly on her bony head. In case you’re wondering – Yes, dogs can give you a “WHAT-THE-HELL??” look. They also let go of the whole thing quickly if apologies are expressed profusely and in conjunction with belly rubs.
The newly established Randall home decor rule: Occupants may display “knick-knacks” from the Friday after Thanksgiving until January 2nd. During said time period, any object deemed knick-knack-ish will be exempt from such descriptions as trinket, junk, corny, or old-lady-ish by the required temporary fulfillment of the gaudy holiday season clause. If, however, the knick-knack is not wrapped and stored in the never-visited section of the basement by the stated end date, the offending occupant(s) and his or her illegal object(s) will be forcibly removed from the premises and shamed into oblivion.
In closing, carrying an artificial pine and four storage totes of Christmas paraphernalia up from the basement inevitably strains husband’s back. This year he bent over in front of the tree and declared that his pain level was increasing by the minute. Maryn reassured him not to worry – That she would be happy to plug her ears if he needed to swear.