Every year my family looks forward to the Christmas flop. You see, no matter how hard I try to have the perfect dinner and most beautiful house, my inner Martha Stewart gets eaten alive by snark-filled reality. And the reality is, I ain’t very creative. When I was younger, that upset me. Now, I sit back, relax and watch as my plans unravel. I’d like to think this change was brought about by maturity, but honestly, it’s because I discovered wine.
Last year, I think the only thing that went wrong was a batch of fudge. So far this year, (and we still have 5 days to go!) the silver bell sugar cookies aren’t bright and shiny. They look like something Quasimodo would’ve rung–dark and Gothic. The Christmas tree cookies look like they have a bad case of the measles–the swirls are big blobs of green. Remember my question about creepy gingerbread men? I thought they might be freaking me out because they were dancing naked on my kitchen table–apparently, they discovered the beauty of wine as well. So, I decided to dress them. White and red frosting in hand, I painted on faces. As I added clothing, several of them insisted on fancier fare than the lovely gumdrop buttons. Who am I to deny them their voice? It turns out that most of my gingerbread men are cross dressers.
Since my cooking exploits weren’t going so well, I turned my attention to decorations. Years ago, Ma and I came home to the loveliest of sights. Pops had gone into the woods and cut down some cedars and made a beautiful swag to put over the windows in the living room. It was breathtaking. Of course, it took Pops about 20 minutes to do the entire endeavor, but it takes me hours. I wasn’t going to do it this year. It’s really pretty, but it’s messy and time consuming.
As I cook and play Mrs. Claus, I listen to music. I had the iPod on shuffle and I was bustling around the house getting nothing accomplished, but looking really busy, when the hymn In the Garden started playing. Time stopped. I collapsed on the couch and burst into tears as every word of the song filled the living room. It was as if the room grew to double its size in order to contain the music. It was so rich, melodic, fulfilling. As I sat there sobbing, I nodded my head and said, “Got it, Pops.” The song ended. I blew my nose and grabbed the loppers. It was time for a walk in the woods.
In the Garden was Pop’s favorite hymn and we played it at his funeral. Talk about a message from beyond. I can’t tell you how happy I was lopping off cedar branches and hauling them to my house. It was a lovely day. The dogs gathered around as I tied boughs together on the deck. I broke out in a rash and I can’t breathe because I’m allergic to cedar, but I don’t care.
My house is literally filled with the spirit of Christmas.