Unbelievably, the year is coming to an end. It's that time again where the stores are stocking up on their Christmas supplies of wreaths and stockings, and sweaters and coats. I took a little trip to the mall yesterday, and it was nice to see all the left over Halloween decorations finally taken down. Christmas is everywhere at the stores now---the commercial Christmas anyway. I found myself going down the aisles with my cart at Target, looking at all the "necessities" of the holiday season, wondering to myself, "Should I start shopping for Christmas? Should I stock up on these cute little stocking stuffers before they run out?" The anxiety has started, and it's a cruel game the retailers are playing! And it's not at the store either, it is at home as well! My mailbox was filled with sales magazines and coupons of important "DO NOT MISS SALES", and all of them have deadlines! My computer email has 230 messages, most of them from telling me the same, with the subject matter starting with: "Hurry! Sales Ends Soon!" or "Don't Miss This One!" It's getting a little overwhelming.
I confess, I bought two presents already. I'm just waiting for the Christmas paper that I bought from my son's Christmas fund raising drive to arrive so I can start wrapping. But where I'm I going to put them once I do? I don't have a tree yet, but I bet those neighbors that live two blocks away, who have their Christmas lights up already, have theirs up! (crazy people--wait until Thanksgiving--I still have pumpkins and scare crow on my porch, you are making us all look bad!) I probably have some wrapping paper in the attic though, along with my boxes and boxes upon boxes of Christmas stuff. I stopped myself from buying some REALLY cute Christmas plates yesterday. They are still on my mind: The smiling Santa Christmas candy dish is still calling out my name, and the snowman cookie dish, and those cute little Christmas tea kettles-the Christmas tree one, and the one with a squirrel... They are still on my mind, and it's driving me crazy... I confess.
What happened to just a nice simple Christmas? No deadlines...no madness, just plain old fashioned fun, and spiritual joy?
I remember one of those long ago. Let's go back to 1981, shall we? It was the year I took the picture at the top of this page. That year we spent Christmas in the Azores, and I remember the simplicity of it like it was yesterday. The choir group from the church would come to our door, with their violins and guitars and sing for "Menino Jesus" (baby Jesus), and we would give them all sweets and liquor. And we would eat sweets and liquor, and everyone had rosy cheeks and big smiles on our faces! It was apparent that they were purposely following my sister around, so there were many giggles; it was pretty humorous. (No one knows what happened to that secret love powder she lost in the church the Sunday before---that is another story in itself.)
It was a nice, cold Christmas that involved old fashioned values--like being with family, going to mid-night mass, opening a few presents around the tree, and later celebrating the new year, dancing until 3 am in the morning, and getting really dizzy from too much champagne. I still remember seeing my mother's room spin on New Years Day, and I think the neighbors rather enjoyed are laughter at 4 am, even though we apparently woke them up. It all gave them something to talk about the next day. We were there for their entertainment. We went to my cousin's high school dance in the city of Angra, and I wore the gold stitched burgundy shoes my mom got me for Christmas, along with that creme colored, gold stitched, gold belted, dress. (It was 1981/82 gold stitching was IN back then--if you wore it you were automatically cool, okay. OH, and if you wore Lois jeans, you were even cooler.) You remember these details when you are 15 years old--back then they seemed to be very important. I didn't get to dance with the guy I had a huge crush over because apparently he went to another dance looking for me there. Sorry, Luis... Oh well, but I got to dance with the cutest guy I've ever seen on the island. His name was Silvano, and little did I know he was my ex-husband's very best friend. I didn't know my ex-husband at the time--oh well, small island. It was just one dance, and a nice kiss on New Years Day, and good thing, cause later I learned he got in trouble with the law that sent him to prison. OH well, a pretty face isn't everything is it?
I have no idea why I'm remembering all that right now, but it sometimes is fun to look back. It was the first Christmas we spent without my dad or my brother around, and that was pretty sad, but my father sent us all cards-which was very unlike my him. He must have missed us very much that year. My father never was a very sentimental person, until he got much older, but I made a point of keeping that card. We didn't have a phone at the house--we would have to go to a cousins house or my aunts house to make a call, no internet, only the mail that usually didn't get there until 3 weeks later. People just don't send letters in the mail anymore. If you sent me a letter, I probably have it still. It was a bittersweet Christmas, but it was nice, and no one really cared what they got, as long as there was some gold stitching somewhere. I remember going shopping with my sister for a gift for my mom, and we found her a really beautiful scarf with blues and greens, and white polka dot, along with gold stitching... My daughter found it later in a drawer somewhere, and she likes wearing it now. See---gold never goes out of style.
Sigh... Looking back on all this is keeping me sane today. I swear, I'm not going to shop online for the rest of the day, no matter how BIG the sale is, even if I can save over 60% on select clearance items. No, I refuse. Black Friday is swiftly approaching. Are you going? Are you going to be part of the madness? Are you going to stand in line at 4 am in the cold for the doors to open? Or are you going to sit in the glow of your computer monitor? I may just wake up the neighbors and watch the room spin--I haven't seen it do that for awhile now.
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