Monday, December 17, 2012

Case Study 122: "The White Christmas Tree"

I have to be honest took me a bit longer than usual this year to get into the Christmas spirit. 

This had me concerned because normally, Christmas is my jam. See, I'm nostalgic almost to the point of fault. I find joy in the smell of roasted nuts in the night air on New York City streets. I relish in falling asleep early in my childhood bed, with that safe feeling that my parents are still awake in the living room. And there is no greater sound than the whirring of our aging cookie shooter gun that, after thirty Christmas seasons, still churns out the best damn butter cookies in all of the land.

Now this year, Thanksgiving came early. I've been on the road, heading north to south and back again, all in a week's worth of time. And last week the weather in Manhattan hit sixty-three degrees. 

Whatever the reason, last week I finally decided something had to be done. I strung garland around the antlers on my wall. I trimmed our family tree. I baked Christmas cookies by candlelight. Yet, still the feeling held out. 

Until about nearly four o'clock on Tuesday afternoon. 

It was a cold day in Massachusetts, and from my desk, tiny lights twinkled around a little tree as the sky turned dark from gray to blue. I had no meetings, just work to do, and so I plugged in and pressed play. I passed the kitschy eighties holiday tracks. I even made it through the Vince Guaraldi Trio just fine. And then I hit Sinatra, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and I was a goner. 

The thing about Christmas is that it defies time and space. It reminds me of years past, when nobody was tethered to anything but each other. When we sat by the fire, the kids rolling around like puppies on the floor and the adults telling stories on the couch. It makes me think of driving through cold streets, bundled up in the backseat as we checked out Christmas lights and slowly crept through snow-dusted Connecticut roads. And it reminds me that no matter how hard I try to bring back those feelings again, the world will never be exactly the same as it was those days. People grow up, time moves on and though we can never go back home to that place, the way we hold onto it is what sets the foundation for what we make our Christmases today. 

I literally cannot wait for next week. I can't wait to bake more holiday cupcakes, like these gingerbread cupcakes topped with vanilla and orange peel buttercream trees and edible glitter. I can't wait to finish work and snuggle in for a few quiet weeks. I can't wait for my dad to keep the fire going all day long. And I really can't wait to see my nephew in footie reindeer pajamas and his little round face on Christmas morning. But that's the thing about Christmas. The spirit, the memories and that real Christmas feeling? It's timeless.  

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