Usually I take my lunch later in the day, since I work until 8:00 p.m., but today, for some reason, I did not take it until after 5:00, when it started to get dark. I bundled up and headed out into the dusk and down California Street. About a block away, I heard singing; closer, and it was "Joy to the World," in the fading light, and Christmas lights were blazing across the plaza and the choir was loud and sweet and involuntarily, my heart contracted and then grew five sizes, and I smiled, because that is my favorite holiday song, the one that makes me cry every time I am hauled into Christmas mass and it rings out behind our heads like a blow to the skull and there I am, singing and crying at midnight and almost wishing I wanted to believe.
I did not cry on California, as I turned the corner and the music receded, but neither was I filled with rage at the decorations up before it is even December, and I am almost even excited for the holiday and the giving and the season and the figgy pudding and if things get wacky, I could even be persuaded to put on a Santa hat. Actually, you could probably persuade me to put on a Santa hat at any point in the year, but around this time it is particularly easy, especially after a liberal coating with egg nog.
That is usually what I get everyone for the holidaysâ€”me, covered in egg
nog. But this year, after getting the big fancy job of big fancy
jobbiness, I was so looking forward to the present-giving season. I was
going to buy the most amazingly awesome and expensive super-gifts in
all the world, and then I was going to gold-plate them and stuff them
with diamonds and roll them in truffles and then decoupage them with
money, and then everyoneâ€™s heads, they would explode. And you know how
there is nothing I enjoy more than a good head explosion, especially at
this time of year.
But now, right at the time when Iâ€™m supposed to be blowing every
paycheck on buying the love of my friends and family, instead Iâ€™m
getting ready to quit the lucrative job and move my ass over a couple
of states and live off of a freelance income. I have to pay off my bills
(which are mumblety dollars) and save up for a car and also moving
expenses, so my dreams of being St. Anne have crumbled into dust. Iâ€™ve
already told my mother that I do not want anything at all,
presents-wise, because I have ruined Christmas and will not be able to
get anyone anything but a twig and some jelly beans and then I cried.
As it turns out, Christmas is not just about presents, and even though
my heart was heavy I revised my to-give list (crossing out â€œdiamond
ponyâ€ and â€œGuamâ€) and spent a couple hours shopping online, and
now more or less, everyone is covered, and now all I have to do, this
holiday season, is continue to cover myself in egg nog and hope that
the warm glow I get, seeing lights and hearing carolers and watching
weird stop animation films on television and thinking about snow (while
not actually having to deal with snow) and going to holiday parties and
wearing festive underpants and threatening to kill the cat when he
climbs the one-foot pink-and-sparkly tree and drinking more wine and
wrapping things will not fade and leave me very, very grumpy.
It will fade, and leave me very, very grumpy. But I bet it comes back,
because this continues to be a season of beautiful miracles that fill
your heart up with love, and also I have festive underpants.