As a middle-aged single guy who regularly faces holidays alone, these are dicey times. Cherished alone time can suddenly meld into solitary confinement as folks around me pack up to visit family and run up their credit cards with gift purchases. Chocolates conveniently displayed by the checkout counter! Clearance rack carves! A second-hand copy of Snooki’s autobiography! (Under the tree filler. Just don’t get too hung up on it’s the thought that counts.)
I tell myself everything is fine. Christmas can be just another day. Or it can be “differently special”—I can make homemade pizza, walk the dog along the beach and through the forest trails, finally watch my DVD copy of “Annie Hall” all the way through, complete a jigsaw puzzle, deep clean the oven. Maybe just different without the special.
So far, everything is fine. I’m even feeling festive. I don’t change the radio station when a Chipmunks Christmas song comes on. I put up a string of lights along the front of the house for the first time in years. I even stood in line to get my dog’s picture taken with Santa. (The helper elf seemed startled when I said I wanted in the photo. You can see for yourself that it meant more to me than my poor pooch. I swear I did not give him a sedative, nor did I load up on rum balls beforehand. Stop the Twitter rumors now.)
I’ve been debating about getting a tree. Probably won’t. I’ve been indoctrinated by Smokey the Bear and firefighters on the news about fire hazards and I’ll be away on my own little adventure for part of the holidays. I’d like to return to a house rather than a pile of soot. Still, even thinking about putting up an askew spruce is a positive step. It shows that Ebenezer and the ghosts of non-Christmas past have been kept at bay.
I’d buy a poinsettia, but it breaks my heart to see it suffer a slow death in the months that follow, leaves dropping rapidly to create a Charlie Brown plant which I finally turf mid-April. Maybe a wreath is the way to go.
Last night I curled up on the sofa with my dog and delighted in every moment of my favorite show in the whole wide world, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”! (Make the Yule-tide gay, indeed!) And I purposely chose the most festively decorated café in town as my writing site this morning. Each time I struggle with a phrase, my eyes look up and are enchanted by the white lights that adorn the pine garlands along the perimeter. Tonight I’m baking shortbread and double chocolate ginger cookies to share with colleagues tomorrow.
Under the right circumstances, I could completely embrace the season. I’m not there yet, but at least I’m not shunning it. I think I’ll head to the pet store and load up on doggy treats to stuff in the stocking I so badly wanted during our office party gift exchange. Everyone else battled for booze. I was totally set on the Santa stocking.
As the cookies bake this evening, I’ll write a handful of Christmas cards, sparing people the form letter enclosure with news about Aunt Hazel’s shingles and my bird-watching plans for ’14. (Sorry, a holiday Tweet or a Facebook post is not the same.)
Of course, all this tentative merriment could evaporate as the 25th nears. For now, I’ll keep tapping my toes as José Feliciano sings “Feliz Navidad” and pick up a carton of soy eggnog before hunting down a suitable wreath.
Deck the halls and all that stuff. Fa la la la la la la la la!