Let’s face it, some folks get really ramped up about the season of festive excess that descends upon us every December. For many of them (even you, if I may be so bold), holiday prep starts months in advance. In extreme cases, as early as Boxing Day of the previous calendar year. Even the slackest of yuletide fanatics seems to hit warp speed about the time our American cousins mark Thanksgiving and, more important, the annual spending orgies known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Let me be clear: these are not my people.
Consider me your basic, white-bread Canadian male Geezer, who buys nothing before Dec. 20, and stubbornly insists yuletide decorations should only be displayed from Christmas Eve until the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6. (Gregorian calendar.) But this year, for some inexplicable reason, I found myself toying with the notion of making an early start. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about purchasing a real, live (meaning dead, but not man-made) Christmas tree, even while it was only November.
Full disclosure: it’s been years since I’ve bought and decorated an actual Christmas tree. You know, the kind that smells terrific for a few days, then turns stiff and brittle and sheds needles enough to burn out the motor of the most rugged Dyson. There were the years of basement apartments and borrowed rooms, when my offspring (and offsprings’ offspring) lived provinces away and seasonal cheer felt inappropriate. Sacrificing even a tiny once-living tree seemed like an outrage.
Enter Herself, some seven years ago. A personage whose heritage included a mere soupçon of Christian tradition, plus a dollop of Judaism, a welter of Wicca and a pinch of Buddhism for good measure.
Each year, she and her daughter faithfully light their menorahs for eight nights, play dreidels and overcook mountains of starchy latkes. They burn scores of candles to the nub while chittering through the night of winter solstice. They recover just in time to put overstuffed stockings under a tiny cardboard tree and shove an overstuffed turkey into the oven.
When we open our doors to company in the final week of 2019, the invitations will read “Happy ChanuSoltstiMas.” Friends or strangers of any religious persuasion, or none, are welcome for drinks and snacks, for conversation, music and laughter. For mistletoe, apples, pomegranates and ivy.
For latkes with applesauce and sour cream. And Scotch eggs. And dreidels. Because that’s how we roll in these parts.
But this year, dammit, there will also be a Christmas tree. A real one, five feet tall a minimum of five feet tall. One that grew in real dirt and sacrificed its non-plastic, non-metallic needles for our sake.
That’s just me, putting my white-bread Geezer foot down.