January 5, 2009

HO HO HUMBUG!

Yeah-yeah. Been a long while since I've posted. This is a big one with lotsa' pictures (and a video!), so hold onto your pants and apples.

The holidays are over and people are back to work again, returning like weary soldiers from the front line ready to fall back into their day-to-day's. Everyone will be fondly remembering their holidays and sharing anecdotes. Each year Christmas is a big honkin' deal. It's candy-colored wonderment, packages, treats, surprises, and warm happy feelings...

Ha! And Schindler thought HE had a big list!

...and it's a a big honkin pain-in-the-ass. Christmas is my least favorite holiday for a combination of reasons. Retailers make most of their profits for the year at Christmastime so they start promoting it mid-October in order to start the buying frenzy. (Didn't work too well this year given the blight on the economy)... but people still got the "Christmas crazies", they rushed around, drove like idiots, and got pushy and rude like they do every year...

It's beginning to look a lot like Crapmas!

And then there's all the expectations. Not the expectations for a wondrous holiday, - no - the expectations and anxiety regarding, travel, presents and-- did the cards all get sent? Did the right people get "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" or "Joyous Season" lest someone be offended...

What?... No Happy Birthday Jesus?! Why the NERVE!

And if you are one who is offended by Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas or vice-versa, get over yourself, consider yourself lucky that you even GOT a card and be gracious for the goodwill you selfish bastard. And please, PLEASE if you're going to send out pictures with your Christmas/Holiday/Kwanzaa/Festivus card, don't only send pictures of your kids.

Mmm, Chris is growing up to be quite the young woman.

No offense, but I probably don't know your kids, never met them, and in some cases I never will meet them. I'm sure they're nice, brilliant, amazing little people and future felons, but I don't care. I wanna see pictures of you first and foremost. Send a picture of YOU with your kids. I don't care how fat or bald you are. Once a year YOU take the time to communicate with ME - and I do the same with you so let's see your flabby old self with your kids. A family picture is perfect. Which brings me to... the Christmas letter. DON'T! Just, don't. Unless it's brief, clever, and really witty, and for the love of crap don't make it ALL about your kids if you do decide to write one. (see previous paragraph).

I wasn't always down on Christmas. Not when I was a kid. Back then, Christmas was like winning the lottery every December 25th. What's not to like about Christmas at that age?

My first Christmas. Denver Colorado.
Maaaaahm! Stop lookin' at Dad and hand over the package!

As a wee one I LOVED Christmas. I was a first generation kid growing up on Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, and Charlie Brown, etc. Ah, happy times.


My absolute favorite toys as a little kid were these two items:

Wish I still had mine, these babies are worth a MINT nowadays.

Nothing spells fun like high-heat and molten plastic!
Back when toys were toys and they helped weed out the weak kids.

Since my family lived in northern Illinois we generally would have a good heavy snowfall around Christmas, so my memories of that time look like this:

The house in Geneseo where I grew up.

My street back when I was a yoot.

But as I grew up, my love of Christmas began to fade...


So long childhood! See ya' again--- never!
Don't look back...because--- I'm gonna eat Rudolph.

As an adult I grew less n' less thrilled with Christmas. Typically around Christmas became the time of year when I had break-ups with girlfriends, had gotten dumped or in a fight, had been sick, or had family members fall ill (my father frequently in later years). The stress is high, you're rushing around, dealing with travel, relatives, and overloaded with tasks for the holidays it's just all one big headache. I've learned to despise this time of year and just endure it.

Hands down my favorite holiday of all is Halloween. I love horror and autumn and candy. It's a simple holiday devoid of any overt religious overtones and just plain fun.

Be honest, do I have seeds in my teeth?

Thanksgiving is my next favorite because it's a time to get together with friends and loved ones with no pressure other than just having a wonderful meal and being together.

Okay Redcloud. You can have a taste, but then we're going
to have to insist that you and your friends leave.

Neither Halloween nor Thanksgiving are the maelstrom of emotion, stress, and pressure that is Christmas. And I like that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a total Grinch, however I find so much of Christmas annoying, but I'm getting better with it and learning to enjoy it more-- partly because so much of my family has passed on over the recent years, there's just myself, my mom, my brother and sister left. However, since getting married my new family has grown with Emily, her sister and her husband and well as Emily's parents. The holiday has taken on a new, more positive dynamic.

Zuzu... stop! ... choking... can't... breath... life... flashing before my eyes...

This year we got to spend time with good friends, going out for a holiday dinner...

Nothing says "Christmas" quite like a diaper right at nose level.

Emily LOVES Christmas, and I have to admit that her enthusiasm for the holiday is infectious. For the first time since I've lived in my house it was decorated beyond just an obligatory string of lights on the porch to appease the neighbors.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, my light bill's high!

We even had a little Christmas village set up inside...

Yo! HEY! I'm freezin' my chestnuts here!

We had not one, but TWO Christmas trees - one in the living room...

It's not our main tree, it's just one of our branches.

...and one in our Tiki Room.


Happy Hula Days!

With all this, I couldn't help but grudgingly start to enjoy Christmas this year.

Me and Emily, beaming with that yummy holiday glow.
It's the hat what makes it all so special.


My sister and Mom visited for the week over Christmas. While normally this would have been one of those stressful things I dread about the Holidays, it turned out to be great.

Jenny, Mom (LeJean), Emily and me.
Totally candid picture, not posed at all. We stand around like this for hours.


We had a chance to have fun and do some touristy stuff like go to Disneyland, do some sightseeing, and shoot up to Santa Barbara for some wine tasting.

My teeth are purple, but I'm not drunk... are you drunk?

Okay, now we're drunk.

There were plenty of other fun activities to fill the time, like Wii bowling with Mom...

Yes mom, every frame can be a "beer frame" if you want.

And cookie decorating...

Later we'll have nap time and a snack, now shut up and sprinkle!

Finally the big day arrived. You can't help but be a little giddy with excitement, wondering what treasures you'll find under the tree.

HO-YEAH! Christmas ain't a total loss, I got me some SCOTCH!

My sister Jenny and her new coin pooch.
I'm sure it's something she really wanted.


There were also the calls to the rest of our family members who couldn't be present. My brother Scott called from Boston just as Emily was setting up an iChat with her family in Florida, so we had two coast-to-coast visits happening at once as you can see in the short video below:

video

Yes, so I ended up feeling a little left out... but things were about to get better. A day or so later a package arrived from Emily's parents -- more Christmas presents! The box was late in arriving, so we had 2nd Christmas!

Oh yeah, the tree's all loaded up for a second time!

Among the great gifts sent, I received a cool hovering pen, clock, and note set!

(GASP of amazement!)

Looking back it was a great Christmas. Despite all the headaches that come with the season, and despite all my bitching about disliking Christmas, if I reach deep down I can still find that little spark of excitement that I had when I was a little one, surrounded by those who loved me.

Lyle & LeJean (my parents), me, Gladys & Powers (my mom's parents)

It's no so much a memory as it is a feeling. It's that feeling that all children get at Christmas and one that as an adult I'm happy I've found again.

Li'l Tommy Hart - 10 months old and ready for his first Christmas.

9 comments:

Eugene said...

Yay! Tom likes Christmas again! It's a Christmas miracle!

"Help Promote Street Racing?"

Jenny Hart said...

"Coin Pooch"! Argh! That is the perfect name for it. I love it. It's displayed in a place of honor. High on a shelf.

Tom said...

Oh yes! Street Racing is the future of fun and excitement for urban youths! Don't you know that?

Actually, it's a piece of urban art that need to ship to my sister in Austin. She didn't have room for it in her luggage.

-----

Jenny, glad you like the name. It just seemed to fit. I'm sure CP likes it up high on its shelf.

Jenny Hart said...

I didn't want it to get BENT. You, you can get bent. You still haven't shipped it to me. Hey, could you change my name to 'greeble teeth' or something now that you're going to lay my life bare on your blog?

Tom said...

Greeble Teeth it is!

mammabecker said...

FANTASTIC!!! Finally, someone in this family that feels the same way about christmas that I do!! You and I, Tom, must have come out of the same mold! Loved it, loved it, loved it!! Such a warm and funny story and I have to admit that it brought a tear to my eyes at the end. Please keep the blogs coming...I live for your blogs!!! (Well, not really...but I do look forward to them)

Anonymous said...

By the end of the blog, I was hearing all the Who's down in Whoville singing their song.

Sigh.

Glad Tom likes Christmas again (I knew Emily was good for something!).

Also, sorry about the Christmas letter. First time I've done that, and I've felt guilty ever since. Especially after reading your other post.

Thanks, jerk.

Ann

Tom said...

Mamma Becker - glad that you're a kindred spirit regarding Christmas, I thought I was the only one. I'm getting better, but the holiday is still an ordeal.

Ann, no apologies necessary for the Christmas letter, yours was better than most - plus it wasn't all about your progeny. Yes, Christmas has come back into my life in a small way. Emily gets credit for that.

Anonymous said...

Glad the letter wasn't so tedious. In all seriousness, I am glad that you are getting some joy out of Christmas. Makes me happy.

Oh, and Emily is pretty cool, so, it's not surprising that she's having such a positive influence on you. And you can quote me!

Ann