I have no favorite Christmas Day. There isn't one of the 48 days with this name that stands out as the perfect or worst or most horrid or most moving. There have been good and bad elements in just about every one of my Christmases, some of them heavy on the good, and some a little strange. Some downright bad.
There was the time our family decided to "dress up" for the holiday meal, and my youngest sister ran into the dining room dressed up as a clown.
The cold, freezing, wet week we spent in London starting Christmas Day. After long days slogging around and going on tour bus tours, we came home to collapse at our hotel. My sons stood on the couch overlooking the busy street below and pointed a red laser light in front of a doorway, watching people stop and stare and look for whence it came.
The Christmas we cut down a live tree at a farm. It had ants and it was so soft, it wouldn't stand straight, tipping over in the Christmas tree stand like a drunken soldier.
The last Christmas I spent with my ex husband and family. We had other guests, and I served giant standing rib roast that came out perfectly. I wanted things to be all right, and I thought Christmas ornaments would help. I decorated the tree solely in red--except for the tiny white lights.
Last year's Christmas--Michael's girls, my boys, my mother and uncle. We laughed, a lot, though later, there was a little throwing up on at least one person's part. But at the time, what merry-making.
The first Christmas with my first baby. We dressed him up in a cute little Santa sleeper and tiny red hat.
Driving around in the car looking for what my oldest son called "Sprinkle Town," the neighborhood in Oakland where the entire street lights up. We missed it, and then no, we didn't. How could we have failed to see it? Both boys pressed their faces against the car glass, looking, loving the sprinkles.
Christmases up in Tahoe at my Friend Karen's house. One night on one visit, I heard a knock on my door and opened it, only to find a vile nutcracker and a music box playing "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem." I knew Karen's husband Scott was behind the planned nutcracker takeover, but I could never prove it.
Picking out trees at Santa Maria church in Orinda. My mother was very picky and this took a long time. One year, we had a tree that was certifiably round. Like a pine ball.
Christmas can be a pain in the neck. Put a bunch of family members together in a hot room with some alcohol and too much food, and there's bound to be some skirmishes. But there are all the rituals, the patterns, the plans--there is the special food, the long time favorite songs, the hunkering down and staying inside for a night. I love Christmas, and I'm always very glad that it is over. For all the memories that I have, the thing I love the most is taking down the tree, touching all the ornaments again, putting them in their careful packaging, despooling the tree of lights and garlands, and picking up the skeleton of the tree, dragging it to the curb, and then going back in the house to vacuum and think and remember.
And then with luck and hope, next year, another one.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org