Christmas seems to have arrived at the Red Room with questions about our favorite Christmas memory. Hmmm. Well, finding a favorite Christmas memory is a tad challenging for someone who is Jewish. I grew up like every other Jewish child, wanting the decorations, wanting the tree, wanting Santa Claus.
I was raised in a very ecumenical community until we moved when I was 10 years old. Then I became the outsider but that's another story for another time. Or never.
Every year my mother would drive around the area so we could look at the decorations and enjoy them. It wasn't our holiday but we could share in the beauty of the season.
Even as I got older I would admire the ornaments in department stores, thinking which ones I would choose if.... They were exquisite. And expensive. Each one providing a cherished memory and keepsake for some lucky family. Of course, reality hit as I grew older and realized that putting up the decorations would be fun and creative but they would only have to be taken down and carefully repacked for another year. That seems like an awful lot of work.
I still admire the lights and decorations although I don't go out of my way to find them. Gas is expensive and I have no desire to drive around aimlessly even if it is a pretty ride. Neighbors keep adding to their outdoor display. Their roof is covered with lights and decorations, the house is covered with lights. Decorations adorn the lawn so to the point where there is no real lawn visible. It seems that every blow-up globe and other assorted three-dimensional decorations ever created is festooning their property. Candy canes line the driveway. When their lights go on at night, mine dim. Really. The house next to theirs seems to be trying to get in on what must be some undeclared decoration warfare. It will take a bit more time but I have no doubt they'll match the neighbor. They're well on their way. Apparently, the phrase "less is more" is not in their lexicon.
New England provides such a total mix of holiday styles of decoration. By far my favorite are the Victorian houses sporting a simple candle in each window, a wreath on the door and a charming Christmas tree that can be seen through the window. There is a certain elegance and charm to it that lends a peaceful feeling. It's not my holiday but I prefer that to the frenetic style of too much of everything thrown up on the lawn. (Any pun intended.)
For me, there is Chanukah. A quiet, lesser holiday on the calendar. It was rather bittersweet for me since the first candle was lit on what would have been my mother's birthday. I lit the menorah each night and remembered holidays past, shared with family as my mother lit the menorah, made the traditional foods and we enjoyed the decorations, happy in the knowledge that everyone was enjoying the season in their own way.
So, to my friends celebrating Christmas, I wish you the peace, joy and love of the season. The spirit without the commercialization. Whether you're with family or alone I hope the holiday finds you doing something to remember.
And to our Red Room family, I thank you for creating a place filled with thoughts, memories, camaraderie and hope. It is a perfect gift: one size fits all.
Causes Darlene Arden Supports
The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies at the AKC Canine Health Foundation