Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not dreaming of a white Christmas

The temperature is in the 70s and I am wearing shorts. It’s Saturday and school is done for the semester. I finally have time to decorate the house for the holidays. I dig out my Johnny Mathis Christmas CD. As a little girl I learned from my mother that it’s not Christmas without the Johnny Mathis Christmas album. I couldn’t even name one non-Christmas song he sings, but still, every year, he has to play while I’m decorating the tree.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” Johnny croons while I’m rearranging furniture to find a place for the tree. The song seems somewhat disingenuous as sweat runs down my back. Song after song paints a picture of a winter wonderland, while I’m wondering if I’ll have to turn the air conditioner back on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the mild winters of central Texas, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas. Then again, growing up in Arkansas, we never saw a white Christmas. I ask Doug if we would have a white Christmas if we spent it in Missouri, but when he tells me it would only be a 50% chance, I decide to forget it. Cold without snow just isn’t worth it.

Of course, the holidays in Texas is not something off a Christmas album, not even the Jimmy Buffett album I play after Johnny finishes singing. Forget turkey, ham or roast beef; two of the Christmas parties we’ve been to this year featured barbecue as the main dish. Christmas Eve is celebrated with tamales and Mexican food. We have performances of The Nutcracker and Handel’s Messiah, but since this is Austin, we have wicked tales of a naughty Macy’s elf.

The tree, the lights, the decorations, the parties – in some ways Christmas is Christmas no matter where you are. Still, I am sad as I listen to my Christmas tunes. We have the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but no sleigh rides, no snowmen, no chestnuts roasting on the open fires. Jack Frost would melt before he could take one nip at my nose. I wonder how the season might be different if we had the white Christmases of the songs. Would they be more traditional? More fun? More special?

I sigh and take a step back to look at the tree. I wipe the perspiration from my forehead. “Not bad,” I think as I look at the tree. Years ago Doug and I decided against the decorator tree, with every bulb matching and in its proper place. Instead, most of the ornaments have special meanings for us, like the ones we got in Hawaii or the ones from Disney. There are wine ornaments, beer ornaments and ornaments friends gave us. Half the fun of decorating is the memories. I still remember certain ornaments from my mother’s Christmas tree. This would be the stuff I would want to have once she passes – the Christmas stuff from when I was little. The ornaments she made 60 years ago; the ornaments I made 30 years ago. The baby Jesus in the manager that I would spend hours rearranging, like a doll in a dollhouse. Even the annoying chirping bird ornament that would drive our cat crazy as he climbed the presents in search of the bird. These are the fragmented memories from Christmases past.

At this moment, I think maybe it doesn’t matter if we have a storybook holiday. What does a white Christmas really matter? Maybe the best type of Christmas is the one we create with our own traditions, barbecues, sunshine and all.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I'll gladly trade the cold weather that we're having in L.A. for your 70 degree temperatures. Enjoy them while they last.

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