Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wrap-Up

Christmas was greatly anticipated in my childhood home. My mother could cook and bake like you couldn't believe, and preparations went on for days and weeks prior to the day. Then after the inevitably un-pretty release of all that tension and expectation -- someone would always be in tears by mid-morning -- we would pile into the car and drive around to look at the impressive displays of Christmas lights put out by our same-ethnicity fellow citizens to gladden the hearts of all.

In contrast, I have tried to keep Christmas relatively simple. I don't cook and bake like a mofo, though my siblings do (my sister rivals my mother's astonishing ability at this sort of thing, while I am merely competent). Christmas lasts for twelve days, after all, or until February 2, if you stick to the old calendar. My son gets one "present" present and some books and candy in his stocking. Here is how we did it this year:

The main course:
- A ten-pound kosher turkey purchased for $4 after Thanksgiving at the local ghetto supermarket, where there can't possibly be much, if any, of a market for that sort of thing, stuffed with bacon-celery-apple-sage dressing, which sort of misses the point, I guess.

The dessert:
- Clementine cake, the easy dessert so good it makes you cry.

The presents:
- A discontinued Playmobil castle wished for over the course of several months and gotten on Ebay. This is a good strategy if you are Playmobil-assembly-averse, as I am, since most of the heavy lifting -- like the attaching of all those infernal little connecter pieces -- was done for you long ago by another parent.

- Out-of-print children's books about Sir Ernest Shackleton's polar expedition and the voyage of the Kon-Tiki, and The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, which is set in my erstwhile 'hood.

The playlist:
- Paul Hillier and Theatre of Voices: Carols from the Old and New Worlds (this is my favorite)
- The Americas Vocal Ensemble: A Hispanic Christmas Celebration
- Chanticleer: Our Heart's Joy: A Chanticleer Christmas
- Saint-Saëns: Christmas Oratorio (a beautiful but little-known piece; I had never heard it myself before getting a gig as the alto soloist a few years ago. The bass on the gig, who was black, told me that it's often performed in Catholic Churches in Harlem on Christmas Eve)
- Assorted Celtic-Traditional artists: Comfort and Joy
- Anonymous 4: Wolcum Yule
- Singing carols in the living room around the piano, the accordion (my husband plays), and the autoharp.

Those of you who revere Bach (which ought to be every one of us) should also know about the yearly broadcast of his complete recorded oeuvre, played nonstop on Columbia University's radio station, WSKG, from December 22 until December 31 each year. It's fantastic.

We miss little Jude today, and wish he were already here.

A blessed and joyful Christmas to all. And a word to the wise: if you're going to post status updates that include your opinion about female reproductive organs (referred to using a schoolyard expletive) on a day that you refer to as "Newton's birthday," I am going to unfriend your ass.


ex-new yorker said...

I discovered that the calm and cheerful least tense Christmas ever required more than 2 hours of sleep, so I spent a bunch of time napping and then some extra time hiding when I felt like yelling at people. At least Christmas Eve went well -- and I don't think I actually spread much of my personal bleh today. Having such a cooking-and-childcare-capable husband has more than just the obvious benefits (e.g., I can go hide from my children and/or guests in the middle of Christmas day. Told you I was not a candidate for Catholic homeschooling mommy blogging.) But today I even understood why some people just go out to dinner on Christmas, or get it premade from a restaurant.

Mrs C said...

Merry Christmas friend. I thought about Jude yesterday too. Can't wait for him to be here.

Mrs C said...

p.s. do you do Santa?

Pentimento said...

Merry Christmas, Ex-New Yorker and Mrs. C!

We do do Santa. It's sort of hard to avoid it. I'm trying to conflate Santa with St. Nicholas in R.'s mind, but have not been entirely successful.

ex-new yorker said...

We don't do Santa, but I try not to be a jerk about it. When 3-year-old daughter watched a VeggieTale about Christmas this season, though, she started talking about "and when Santa comes, he will..." the same way she talked about what we and our guests would do. In that moment I understood how children could end up believing in Santa without parents "lying" by any definition of the word... unless someone wanted to make a case for "lies of omission," though I'm not up on the moral theology of those. Too late to start a Santa tradition around here, though, I think.

Merry Christmas!

Sheila said...

That last paragraph came out of where???? Must be a story there, or a pop culture connection that I'm totally missing?

Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Pentimento said...

No pop culture reference, just an account of what happened! Merry Christmas, Sheila.