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Any Excuse
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Even though 2009 has been the Worst Year Ever for my family, I'm excited about Christmas. Something about this time of year excites me. After the loooong California semi-summer (it's never quite hot, and never at all humid, so this North Carolina boy has trouble thinking of it as truly "summer"), it's refreshing to see temperatures drop, clouds roll in, and precipitation fall FROM THE VERY SKY.

Plus, my favorite foods (after sandwiches, all hail sandwiches) are soups/stews/chilis, and it's finally cold enough to justify making lots of those. (Last night was a crockpot gumbo with skillet cornbread.) Also: my birthday is this week.

Also: presents. And wine. And hot cocoa. And spiced cider. And the cozy takes-me-back-to-childhood feeling of being snuggled under blankets. And scarves. (I have a great fondness for scarves.)

I do miss my family this time of year -- mom, dad, sister, brother -- but it's not a lonely holiday, because my sister-in-law and nephew live nearby, and my mother-in-law comes out since both her daughters are here, and we have a pretty full house on Christmas morning. (We do holidays at my sister-in-law's house. Our house is also full, but it's full of toys and other toddler effluvia, and less conducive to group gatherings.) We cook VAST quantities of food and subsist on leftovers throughout the Dead Week after Christmas. We listen to lots of holiday music (the Christmas Lounge and Xmas in Frisko streams at especially) and dance around the house. Our son is old enough now to get the joy of ripping open gifts, even if he doesn't understand why we're doing it, exactly. (For that matter, as a cheerful atheist/humanist/sustainable hedonist, I'm not sure I understand why we do it either, but my motto (indeed my guiding philosophy), is: any excuse for a good time.)

Some people take this time of year as a good reason to be curmudgeonly, bitter, and jaded, and I actually respect that, and indulge in it a bit myself from time to time... but something in my brain chemistry and personal history combine to create a certain irrepressible bubble of joy around this time of year. I like sentimental Christmas movies. I like singing "Christmas with the Snow" and "Merry Christmas from the Family". I take a good time wherever I can find it.

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