First of December

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Dining room near dawn today. No sign of Santa. Or reindeer.

THIS IS HOW the dining room looked this morning when I entered from the rather distant bedroom just after 7 a.m. The Canon sat nearby, so I snapped the shot.

The First of December, so the Yuletide is upon us if the shelves in Walmart and Costco are to be believed. They’ve had Christmas stuff for some time now.

Like most kids, I loved Christmas in those distant days when I was young, but I’ve lost touch with it. I’m not sure how that happened or when. I loved it, and then I didn’t.

Due to an ever-stressed environment (booze) at my childhood home in Florida, Christmas was best celebrated at my mother’s family farm in southwest Georgia, my maternal grandparents. The tree was always tall and green, and Santa was fond of stopping there though Lord knows how he found us in those rural, dirt-road boonies, but he did.

Maybe he smelled the cows or was drawn by the orchard of pecan trees.

I hesitate to cast blame, especially when I played a major role, but I think I went south, so to speak, on Christmas during my second marriage. That wife, you see, was fanatical about Christmas. You couldn’t deck the halls too much. More was always better.

The tree had to be a real one, of course, and those things are nasty. It’s a sticky tree. They prick you. They shed. And then you have to get rid of them somehow, dragging them out the door while they leave a trail of trash behind. And those are all things the guy must do. The womenfolk just direct. I balked, and so did she.

It was an annual crisis. We both were at fault. Her overdoing, my underdoing.

Wife No. 3 does not provide those problems. We have an elegant, high-end, artificial tree we bought about 15 years ago at a department store in the nearby state capital.

Sometimes we put it up. Sometimes we don’t. I say we, but it’s really her. She does not ask for help. I sit on the sofa providing moral support. She does not get mad about it. We rarely have visitors, so I’m not sure why it gets put up. It’s just for us, and I don’t much care. I do enjoy traditional Christmas music,  however.

Silent Night, Holy Night, and so on. Deck the Halls!

Christmas Eve does not happen at the Hacienda. She does the usual Mexican thing elsewhere with her relatives, sometimes here on the mountaintop, sometimes at the nearby state capital. We have kinfolk splattered all over the place.

Christmas Eve dinner takes place near midnight in Mexico. I don’t do midnight, so I’m at home enjoying peace and quiet. When they get around to eating, I’m snoring. Everyone is happy. Our Christmas tree stays up till she gets around to dismantling it. Again, I watch and provide moral support, reveling in not having an angry Christmas spouse.

This is just one of many pluses one finds in Mexican women.

I wonder if she’ll put up the tree this year. I’m always ready with moral support.

Fa-la-la-la-la and Kalamazoo!

23 thoughts on “First of December

  1. Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla wash and Kalamazoo. I also try to minimize Christmas but, for some reason, kids want to do their celebrating at my house. I’ve thought they should start their own traditions, but it’s hard to tell them that.

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          1. It would haunt my legacy if I shuffled my kids and grandkids back to their own homes. I guess they do like coming here, something not all families can say.

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  2. Having come from a divorced couple who both wanted me to be there for Christmas, the holiday has been stressful as long as I can remember. Oh, and then I moved to Boston, which only added to the stress, requiring a plane flight at peak season, car rental, some form of accommodation (usually provided by friends), and other hassles. Labor day used to be my official day to start feeling anxiety about Christmas.

    But I seem to be mellowing in my old age. A couple of years ago, I found that the world did not end when I failed to spend Christmas with my father’s side of the family at all. And this year, I’ll either be happily at home in Boston, or perhaps (airline fares willing) in Ajijic. Either should be relatively tranquil.

    So I’m officially not sweating it. In fact, I’m even thinking of putting up some Christmas lights. Now if it only weren’t so darned cold outside, 32°F as I write, I’d be more inclined.

    In any case, this year should be pleasantly different.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where it’s looking like we might get a very early snowstorm. Hmmm……

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  3. The wife is with our daughter-in-law and her sisters making the Christmas tamales. They will go into the freezer until Christmas Eve. Then they get steamed.
    We haven’t had a Christmas tree in about thirty years. I don’t miss it. After the turn of the year, the alley will be filled with former trees.

    Every Christmas, my mother made a ton of Christmas candy. No wonder the whole family is diabetic. She passed away in 1976, but the diabetes lingers on. I really miss the candies and the pastries. We never drank, but we sure did sugar.

    Now what should we have for Christmas dinner?

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    1. Señor Gill: That’s quite a head start on the tamales. I’ve rarely encountered tamales that I like. Most of them in my neck of the Mexican woods are more dough than stuff inside, and tamales are usually very unhealthy. A Mexican guy I worked with on the Houston Chronicle long ago almost always brought tamales to the office around Christmas, tamales his Mexican wife made. Best tamales I ever ate. I miss them.

      Your mother made Christmas candy? My mother never made anything.

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  4. A few years ago, maybe even ten, I decided to just leave up the Evergleam silver aluminum tree, moving it from its display location to the living room and then to the casita. Right now it’s situated in the Ocampo gallery next to Santiago Apostol on his white horse. Maybe I’ll keep it there until summer.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: You are a strange woman. Just today you’ve obligated me to internet search for Evergleam trees and Santiago Apostol. I even saw his white horse. As for the Ocampo, I did not know you actually have a gallery. Very strange indeed.

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  5. Both you and Jennifer have some interesting Christmas tales to tell. As a writer, I miss those nuggets in my own author treasure chest. Our family was never very big on traditions. Especially Christmas. I have a couple of photographs that I recovered on my trip north. I may share them — along with an essay on the Christmases that never were.

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  6. As a spinster of an uncertain age, I certainly could do without Christmas trappings if I chose that route. Who would interfere? But no. I chose to put up a tree, or two, with garland on the mantel, and a nativity set on the table. I buy gifts sparingly, just for a few immediate family members who probably will eat Christmas day at my table.I respect your Grinch-like attitude about the whole season, though. In time, I, too, will probably go down that path, too.

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    1. Laurie: Truth is I do not have a Grinch-like attitude. I simply am mostly indifferent. My attitude was quite Grinchy when I lived with my second wife. I think her mind-boggling extremism on the Yule matter pushed me in the opposite direction. I do not recall being a Grinch before meeting her. Odd. Now I can get into the Christmas spirit to a degree. I enjoy Christmas music quite a lot. I would not mind giving some gifts if I did not have to make the effort to find them and wrap them. Christmas trees are great if I do not have to put them up and take them down.

      In any event, I send you a Merry Christmas a bit early.

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  7. Señor Felipe, Feliz Navidad and many more.

    You should trot up here to the frontier and try some our Norteño tamales. Bet we could see you like them, at least those we are fond of. Lots of good ingredients inside without too much masa on the outside.

    Santa used to be a cool guy. Seems he may have lost some of his glitter.

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    1. Ricardo: The tamales you describe sound like the one’s my former coworker’s wife made and he brought to the newsroom. They were exceptional. FedEx a bunch, won’t you? That would be nice. I await further word.

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  8. I can be pretty grinchy about Christmas music, at least the popular songs played ad nauseum on the radio and in stores, like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “The Little Effing Drummer Boy.” Long ago I had a cassette tape that I loved of a children’s choir in Sweden singing Christmas songs (in Swedish) but I lost it somewhere.

    Also, insert usual grinchiness here about commercialization of Christmas…anyone who would like to start a (doomed) war on that has my support.

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