There is a profound difference in the experience of a holiday as an adult, compared to when I was young. I’ve still got some very unpleasant memories of being young, but the holidays in my immediate family, away from the poisonous influence of my more distant relatives, were pretty great.
I would come home from school and there would be decorations where none had been. I came in from the barn and met the sweet smell of baking bread or cookies. Presents and packages appeared a few at a time under the tree until we were bursting with excitement to see what was inside of them.
The important difference is this: as a child, the holiday appeared around me with little effort from myself. Now, it doesn’t happen unless I do it myself.
Mom can’t handle the decorating anymore, Dad isn’t home enough. These two facts represent the whole reason they asked me to come back, after all. If we want a tree set up, I have to do it. If we want a feast, Mom can’t do it on her own. Presents got scaled way back years ago and overall, we all prefer it that way. Better to keep it simple. Puzzle books, gas cards, booze are all preferable to gadgets or clothes in this family.
So… I did the decorating, at least at Mom’s. She does Christmas with an Old World flair and I do Yule, and basically you can’t tell the two apart from the outside. It’s pretty great.
Her tree is up, her halls are decked, the house is wearing its red bows and garland. There are many dozens of cookies in the freezer. I don’t have many presents to give, because trying to do all of this on very little income is not easy. I choose to spend my money on things like food and stuff for the house and cabin and goats and garden. You know, useful stuff. I do have a few trinkets hidden away, but not many. I’ve got the ceramic tree up in the cabin since I don’t have room for a real one- and don’t need a real one since I’m surrounded by white pines. I’ll just decorate them. They seem to enjoy it.
The weather still hasn’t cooperated but the trimmings are up.
It can be Yule, now.