As Barbara (Streisand) sang in “Funny Girl” – “Don’t rain on my parade”. That’s right you heard me, don’t.
“Why the sad face?” “Why the anger emanating from your eyes?” – Such have been the nature of questions and queries I have received during the past few days. I imagine people see me like an angry lunatic.
So, what’s the deal. I am disappointed. I fear I have, like thousands of you out there, already been disappointed by this pending Holiday. Not a huge surprise really but saddening nonetheless. The Grinch has stolen my Holiday spirit.
As many of you know, when you are in a partnership with somebody you have to compromise on some matters. When it comes to Christmas, you may alternate in which home you spend it. This is what we do. This year we are spending it in Mexico which is wonderful. I have been thinking about what to get people for a while and acquiring a few gifts throughout the year. Turns out, however, that no, a not so Secret Santa was arranged. Hum. Or should I say “Ohm” which is what I have had to practice during this time. I don’t mind Secret Santa. I used to play it when I worked at Newsweek. The price was set at ten pounds and we all ended up buying eachother outrageously naughty gifts. It was hysterical.
Christmas with your family, even extended family doesn’t warrant a Secret Santa arrangement (in my opinion). Being told who to buy a present for is a bit disturbing, especially when you don’t know that person personally and the price range is set rather high – rhymes with tree wondred wanders. That is not the only problem per se, what made me sad was that it totally rained on my parade.
Flexibility and a “going with the flow” attitude is a necessity in these situations. With my excitement so high, however, I find it difficult to swallow this. One has to set ones boundaries and honor ones beliefs in life. I have tried to do so in this case but don’t want to end up beating a dead horse (what an awful mental image that conjures).
I mentioned in an earlier post how much I love Christmas. Let me rephrase. I freakin’ love Christmas. As a little girl I would save up all of my savings in a little piggy jar thing (how eloquent). The ten kroner that go into the shopping carts we have in Oslo would be “secretly” stolen and popped into the piggy jar. The left over coins (sometimes even “paper money”) was squeezed into my piggy jar. When asked for the change, it was always too late, “the piggy ate it”.
As Christmas approached my father would take me to the bank. Carrying my heavy piggy I would stand on my tippy toes and place the pig on the counter. It was time to open her up. A sea of coins would flow from her opened belly. She was birthing money, lots and lots of money which I was to use to buy my family presents. My joy and excitement was at its peak – this was the best time of year. Full stop. The banker would always give me a red plastic elephant and a couple of balloons. Walking out of the bank, money in pocket, hand in my fathers and the other holding a balloon and elephant – I was in seventh heaven.
What proceeded was a shopping date with my father and then another with my mother. When shopping with my father we would buy my mother’s gift and a few for my brothers or “the brothers” as I used to call them. When shopping with my mother we would shop for papa and whoever else was left over. On both occasions we would have lunch together at what I considered the most luxurious of places. A food court (not like in the States – think far smaller consisting of an Italian, Chinese and a home-made hamburger place). There was always somebody playing the piano and a large Christmas tree in the middle of the room. This was actually the bottom floor of a three floor shopping arcade. In the middle was a round open area which would let you look up and down the floors. The piano player was on the floor above us and the tree lifted up into the air reaching up to the second floor. I would have a pizza or sweet and sour shrimp (so exotic) and savor every bite.
I absolutely loved to imagine people’s face when they opened their gifts. From silly underwear, socks, shirts, gadgets, books, CDs – I would write lists and research throughout the year what my parents, brothers and eventually sister-in laws would want (now I also think of my nieces and nephews).
I would take time in wrapping presents, adding candy canes or sweets to the wrapping – making the whole unwrapping an event in itself. Then there was the card – hand-made – what to say? A summary of the year, a story, a joke, a token of love, a meaningful mention of gratitude.
My mother and I would make chocolate and vanilla shortbread squares. My mouth waters at the thought. And the ginger bread men and women, donkey’s, stars, butterflies, cats, dogs, nisser (Norwegian elves), horses, and Christmas trees. My God mother would help me make a ginger bread house that was so beautiful. Neatly lined with the Norwegian version of gummy bears called “seigmenn” and “seigdammer” – jelly men and jelly women.
The Christmas tree? The biggest tree that could fit smack middle of our living room (need room to dance around it you see!) The “nacimiento” (crib) by the window on my father’s desk. The Food? Too much to even list – deserves it’s own post.
In Norway we have the tradition of “Nisser”, these elves I mentioned. Stories of the “Nisser” have been passed down for generations. These “Nisser” would help around the farm but only if they were treated nicely i.e. given porridge. Nowadays the porridge (preferably rice porridge) usually only comes out around Christmas. Nisse figures populate people’s homes during Christmas and children sing songs and tell tales about the Nisser’s naughty tricks.
As I write this all out I realize that perhaps the Grinch has not stolen Christmas. I stood my ground and explained my position. I don’t feel I have really been listened to and acknowledged but time to move on. I suppose this is a life lesson – don’t let people rain on your parade and don’t rain on your own parade. You may not be able to control what people do and say but you sure as hell can control how you deal with it. Stay true to who I am, I shall, but I won’t try to convince anybody my way is right or better than anybody elses. That would be absurd of me. So, I shall be a wicked (amazing, not cruel) Secret Santa, as well as myself, and buy the presents I wish and sing Christmas tunes and indeed “make love not war” this holiday season.
Peace. Amen. Venting over.
Question: Who else has had to confront, reassess, address or compromise for Christmas?