The Christmas Spirit Intensification

It’s as if the proper noun of Christmas itself has exploded and had a million babies that rent forth into the world to spread the merry word of yuletide cheer in a frankly almost horrific fashion

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it? The hustle and bustle. The Christmas specials. The music in the public spaces. The obnoxious people who feel the need to tell us that Christmas is about consumerism and that Jesus was born in the summertime (he’s such a Leo). Thank you for your trenchant observations. Captain Obvious.

But the fact is, I haven’t been much in the mood this year. I don’t know if it’s the dark sapping my energy like a seasonal vampire or the late year workload crushing what is left of my spirit, but it has taken me a while to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s been coming in increments.  

Last Friday I bought a Christmas bush in the flower shop in the lobby at school. It sat on my bookshelf looking rather sad and bushy. On Saturday I woke up and watched Love Actually, but I really only had it on for background noise while I worked on some last articles before break. I only came to when Hugh Grant and his bodyguard sang a Christmas carol (Good King Wenceslas? oof) and by then it was too late.

On the following day I went to the store and bought some decorations for Gary the Christmas bush and a few other knickknacks to put on the shelves. The ostensible goal was to surprise Burke, who was getting home from a weekend away and who was also having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. But in reality I think it was for me. I guess I was trying to force myself into the Christmas spirit, to resuscitate the yuletide warmth within.

I don’t mind telling you, I was growing slightly concerned. The autumn and Christmas have long been my favorite time of year. Not for the holidays, of course, nor for the fact that I was born in October (such a Libra). But more for the defense against the downsides of the year, the cold and the dark, that has worked so well for me. This time of year I put into motion an overall hygge campaign. The pursuit of comfort and coziness. A whole lot of us do. We meet with friends in pubs, enjoy a walk through a leafy park or cityscape before retreating to our homes to sip hot drinks and read on the couch. We watch comfort movies and TV.

Or at least I do. But this year I have found that I am not taking part or enjoying these things as much. I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit. I found that I kept talking about my flight home and a four hour layover in positive terms. “Oh it’s OK,” I said about twenty times, “I don’t mind. I sort of like the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas airport. It gets me into the Christmas spirit.”

What dawned on me, eventually, was that what I was saying was that I hoped the hustle and bustle of the airport would get me into the spirit. Because nothing else seemed to be.

I launched a mild campaign in my last week of school by showing A Christmas Carol (Mickey’s version) three times (with clear pedagogical aims). I made most of my lessons Christmas-themed. And we decided at home to watch only Christmas episodes of sitcoms. What we watch mostly is The Office, and it’s a little hard to get into Christmas with Michael Scott’s particular brand of insecure asshole/lunatic running around in a Christmas hat.

As if mocking me to the very end, my flight was at 7 am, which meant getting up at 4 am (with 4.5 hours more of darkness ahead) and bussing it to the airport. The airport was too quiet to raise any spirit in me. Heathrow was a bit better. There was the music, more ugly Christmas sweaters, and everybody was being incredibly annoying. I spent my time in the bookstores. There was a lurch in my chest where, I suppose, my Christmas spirit lives. It reminded me of the mall, the place I claim I hate the most. I went: “Hm.”

The flight was eight hours of zombie and Quentin Tarantino films and the most annoying seat neighbor a person could ask for (see next blog). I had three red wines. I tried to watch two Christmas or holiday movies, but none of them would take. I was determined to enjoy every moment, though, and settled into the flight with zombies and Adam Driver.

Philadelphia International Airport’s arrivals lounge isn’t Christmassy as much as it’s soul crushing and quiet. The gift of expedience was incredibly appreciated though. My parents pick me up and the walk to the car is filled with talk about the Eagles and traffic. My dad mentions a failed attempt to accurately reconnaissance Christmas dinner (being held at my cousin’s). My mom tells me with unhesitating imperativeness that I will waking up the next morning at 7:30 to get her to accompany her to the store so that I might act as “the muscle” needed to carry eleven cases of water for six people.

Standard Christmas fare. We head down 95 North towards home. I have amazingly caught the last hour of daylight. Despite prognostications, traffic isn’t heavy. We arrange the cheesesteak order on the way and I call it in when we hit (as we have discussed at length and agreed upon) Woodhaven Road exit. I am sitting in front so I have to call on my mom’s cell, which is attached to the car’s stereo. As I order, my mom sends me into various stages of apoplexy by correcting parts of the order I have not yet made. (No, don’t forget…, Oh, the next one has no cheese…). I threaten to take the next flight back in the morning, my mom tells me she’ll bring me back to the airport, my dad interrupts to find out if we’ve ordered the cheesesteaks already. Which we did. Two minutes before. Literally over his shoulder. While he was driving a car we are in.

This is every year. A Christmas tradition.

By the time we enter the living room, which looks as though the very proper noun of Christmas itself has exploded and had a million babies that rent forth into the world to spread the merry word of yuletide cheer in a frankly almost horrific fashion, I feel better. And I’m a lot better in a few minutes when I’m in pajamas and eating a cheesesteak and my sister’s kids are arguing about things like Pokémon or why ketchup is red (because it’s made from tomatoes was deemed an unsuitable reason) or how many times the cat has pooped that day (the debate deadlocked with most parties stubbornly held at either 2 or 3. My two cents: 2).            

I suppose I needed to leave behind the real world of bills, articles, classes behind and enter my comfort zone, which is evidently made up of tiny family quarrels, bickering, absurd questions, childish displays from a 45 year old man, cheesesteaks, and the comfort of knowing that there will always be at least a few people I can annoy with perpetuity who will never, ever leave me.

Because they can’t.


Merry Christmas!

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