So this afternoon I had a small realization. Last year I can't say I was ever really in what I think of as "The Christmas Spirit". I enjoyed the holiday. It came, it went, turkey was had and presents exchanged. But something was missing, and I couldn't figure it out.
As much as anything else, Christmas is about ritual. Its why when we start dating someone new, everything about their family's Christmas sounds completely crazy (Jamie's family has a quiet family event. When I was growing up, you could expect up to 12 people sleeping in the house on Christmas Eve. I didn't sleep in my own bed on Christmas until the end of college.).
The ritual we decided to forego in 2009 was a tree. I think Jamie and I have had a tree in every apartment and house we've shared. As a kid, everything about the tree was part of the holiday ritual. We did not go as a family to the lot and pick out a tree. We pulled the branches out of the boxes, laid them out according to size (marked by a dab of color at the aluminum stem of the branch) and then began putting the thing together. It took forever just to get the branches on, let alone getting lights strung (we had no fancy pre-lit trees in those days) and ornaments hung.
And then, we all had to stand back, look at the tree, and notice that, yeah, that thing really listed, and we'd maybe get a new fake tree next year. Which we finally did when I was a Junior or Senior in high school.
But, man, you should have been there for the great "The Clapper" experiment of 1996. Let's just say that having a device that uses sound to turn the power on and off in the same room where you're watching football and basketball for two weeks straight makes for a magical Christmas tree. (That said, my Grandma loved standing up at night and "clapping" the Christmas tree off.)
Anyhow, last year after we got Scout, who is a very sweet but very nervous dog, we decided not to put up our fairly sizable fake tree. She might eat branches or ornaments. She might knock the tree over. We didn't know. Also, we were kind of glad not to lose the square footage in the middle of the house.
This year we actually decorated the front and inside of the house Thanksgiving weekend (another ritual), but... its just been off again. Our stockings are up, the nutcrackers are in place, the garland is out... but once again, I just didn't really feel like it was Christmas time. Even after going shopping for a good chunk of the day.
And I realized: maybe I need to decorate a tree. Maybe that's just part of the deal. If I don't assemble a fake tree and place ornaments upon it, maybe my Christmas engines simply won't fire.
Anyhoo... this evening we went out and got a small tree that we can place on a side table. It had sort of plastic legs you slide into place, and it doesn't exactly require assembling, but something like it. We put on some carols and put some ornaments on (its much smaller than our usual tree). Jamie sang a song or three.
The tree is now decorated, complete with Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and GL. Its got a star and a menagerie of animals and these nice glass orbs Jamie bought a while back. And I'm already feeling much, much better about Christmas.
I also have two UT sports ornaments. And as I was hanging them, I made a little promise to myself that these were for better luck next year for our mighty Longhorns. I confess, I even rubbed them for good luck.
That's what this time of year is about. Saying good bye not just to this year, but looking back at all the years, all the memories you unpack, with hope for better next year.
A Christmas album was playing, the dogs were settled and snoring on sofas, my lovely wife was under a blanket and reading, and I sat back in the glow of the lights, quite content.
And then I read this bull@#$%.
%$#@!!! %$#@ity @#$% %$#@!!!!!!!
UT's defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, is leaving to become head coach at the University of Florida. In my book, this is a total disaster. He was supposed to be staying at UT and make millions of dollars and then take over when Mack Brown retired. But, ohhhhh no. UT had to have a 5-7 season, and Mack Brown isn't leaving on that note, so you bet Muschamp started looking around.
The guy is a great coach, he may well poach some of UT's better coaching staff that remains in the wake of the coaching resignations and firings the past week or so following the Longhorn's 5-7 season. Muschamp won't be here to recruit for 2011, and our defense was barely holding on, as it was.
My magical UT ornaments did NOTHING.
Stupid 2010. Stupid 2011.