December 28, 2004
Not the rear kind, the gear kind. I'm 25, and I still go home to my parents' house every single year for Christmas, even though I live 850 miles away. It's sort of a deal between my mother and I that I will continue to do so as long as she continues to provide presents on an equal scale with when I was, say, ten years old. The fact that I'm in grad school and still have Christmas vacations helps, too. My reluctance to really grow up always proves itself to be to my benefit. We also have a running game where I steal Baby Jesus from the nativity scene and keep him until Christmas day, not to be surrendered unless there are presents for ransom. Hey, he's born on Christmas, right (allegedly)? This year, he was super-glued in there, and I wound up pulling the entire manger out of the scene, after which I had to pry the little baby out of a hell of a lot of glue. Christmas is fun on Elm Avenue. I don't even get dressed on Christmas anymore, really -- P.J. pants and something cozy on top, rarely even shoes. I'm adept at doing nothing or very little, and I really excel at it on Christmas day. Being a vegetarian in a house with ham and turkey roasting is trying, given my former affection for the latter, but there is actually a buffet of candy and cookies in the dining room at my parents' house. To say that I have some holiday weight on me right now would be to propose that "some" means "formerly merely noticable gut goes very awry in its noticeability." Gifts this year? A glass pen and ink set; American Writers at Home; assorted underthings from the GAP; The Polar Express; Bottle Rocket; a toaster oven; money and gift cards; a gift certificate to Center Stage in Baltimore; coffee; candy; "My So-Called Life" on DVD (the entire series); customized bookplates; a fascimile of the first edition of For Whom The Bell Tolls; an Edgar Allan Poe Little Thinker doll; and more items I have forgotten to list. Why so smugly materialistic? Hell, Christmas is about giving and getting presents and family and rest and eating too much good food and spreading joy to all and coming to Baltimore and doing nothing. That's what it's always been to me. Even when I was a practicing Catholic, the togetherness and presents got me more excited than the birth of Jesus. Is that wrong? I don't feel badly for having the holiday mean something to me other than what it's "supposed" to mean, even if my up-bringing was geared to getting me to remember "the reason for the season" and all that. There's really nothing "spiritual" about it for me. Why would my spirituality need a holiday to be exercised anyway?