Monday, December 14, 2009


by Gina Sestak

Is anybody else having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year?

I started watching It's a Wonderful Life yesterday, but had to turn it off.  Jimmy Stewart was just so annoying!   And I couldn't stand Mary.   "Let the savings and loan fail!" I wanted to yell.  Not the proper Christmas spirit.

I tried to get into the right mood.  Really.  I made some donations, but I'm not feeling all that charitable.  As I wrote the checks, I found myself hoping that the charities would not respond by calling to ask for more or by sending me unwanted calendars, cards or odd small blankets.

I've tried listening to Christmas carols, but even my favorite CD hasn't done the trick.  What is that favorite CD? you may ask.  Well, it's non-traditional, a compilation called It's a Cow Christmas.

It is not just moo-ing, either; it includes the carols cattle would sing if they were Christian and spoke English:  The Hallemoojah Chorus, Angus We Have Heard on High, God Rest Ye Merry Cattlemen, We Wish You a Dairy Christmas and my very favorite, Deck the Stalls With Oats and Barley (moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, 'Tis the season for cow parties . . . )

I haven't gotten my card list out yet, nor purchased Christmas stamps.

I have three big red-and-green boxes full of decorations sitting in my living room.  I haven't even opened them.    I usually have that all done by now, but even thoughts of my favorite nativity scenes aren't making me want to take them out of their boxes.

What are those favorite nativity scenes? you may ask.  Well, two are music boxes.  One has the Holy Family in a snow globe, rotating clockwise to the tune of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem while the three wise men rotate around them counter-clockwise, riding on a donkey, a camel, and an elephant(!).  Another is a matchbox, from which slides a wee little Holy Family surrounded by a train track on which a train runs to the tune of Silent Night.  Then there's the tiny statues I bought in Riviera Maya; everyone (Holy Family, angels, etc.) look very Mexican; they have cute miniscule sheep.   Another cardboard nativity scenes with all kinds of angels and animals, etc. pops up out of a very large book.  I have yet to unpack even one of them.

How about you?

Are you in the mood for Christmas?  Do you have your favorite decorations up?


PatRemick said...

The only reason I have a single decoration up is because No. 2 son returned from college for the winter break Saturday. I've got so much Grinch in me that last week I blogged on my own site about how women tend to hate Christmas:
--mostly because it's so much work for us. Is that what's going on with you?

Our local Sisters in Crime chapter had our holiday party yesterday -- we did a read a page from your favorite book aloud and then put it in the basket for the grab -- lots of fun and where else can you hear people oohing and aahing and clapping over murder? That helped get me in the holiday spirit, if you can believe it!

Joyce said...

My house is decorated as much as it's going to be. I put up my tree, set up the Nativity set and hung up the stockings.

I can't really say I'm NOT in the Christmas spirit, but with the kids grown, it's not as much fun as it used to be. I miss things like searching for that hard-to-get Lego set. And there's nothing like putting together the Batcave or the Ghostbusters Firehouse at 3 in the morning. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Gina, I am a huge Scrooge and hate to decorate. So far, we've got a Santa candle in the holder by the front door and Christmas plates on the hutch. I'm hoping my husband is counting on me to buy a tree, because I will surely "forget."

However, I have tons of holiday food, all over the house. That is how I show my holiday spirit. A journey from my front door to kitchen table could easily leave you with 5 extra pounds.

Anybody want fudge?


Jennie Bentley said...

DH decorated last week. The babysitter we had last weekend made him feel guilty that the house wasn't decorated. I don't do guilt, so it didn't bother me, but he went crazy. It looks like the North Pole exploded in here. It's pretty, though. And I didn't have to do any of it. He even cleaned! (Which he does a lot better than me anyway, having been raised by Pennsylvania housewives. I don't care whether the house is clean, either, so I do a haphazard job at best.)

We've got Christmas music going all day long - 92.9 FM in Nashville plays Christmas music 24/7 - and with small kids in the house, Christmas tends to be a pretty big deal anyway. But I can't stand "It's a Wonderful Life," and you can't pay me to watch it. Sorry. Depressing damn thing...

My favorite Christmas movie is "Holiday Inn." DH and kids love "Elf," but I don't watch that either.

Joyce said...

Yes, we Pennsylvania housewives do train our children well!

Gina said...

Pat -
I have no excuse for being in a Scrooge-y mood, no live-in family or Christmas obligations. Our local SINC chapter tried to have our party yesterday, but the weather intervened. The five of us who made it stood on the restaurant steps in the freezing rain for a long time, locked out, before we thought to call and found out that our chosen party spot would not be opening for hours due to employees not being able to make it in to work.

Jennie -
I have to agree with your DH and kids. As Christmas movies go, ELF is one of my favorites. It manages to warm the heart without turning the stomach.

Bah, humbug!

Karen in Ohio said...

Pat, you don't happen to be in the same SIC group as Hank Phillipi Ryan, do you? That sounds like so much fun.

Jennie, your comment about the North Pole exploding in your house cracked me up!

Zero decorating here this year, although I might drag out the small, pre-decorated tree this weekend. We had a mishap with our kitchen floor, which has now been torn up and will (hopefully) be replaced this week. I've taken almost all the furniture out of the room (it's a big room), and it's all over the rest of the house, waiting for the new floor. And I just finished painting that room, too, so no time to fool around with boughs of holly, tra la, tra la.

I feel a bit like a Grinch, but only one of our kids is coming home, and she won't even be here for Christmas. Everywhere else we're going will be decorated, so I'm counting on other family members to boost the holiday spirit.

PatRemick said...

Yes,Karen, Hank and I are both on the board of the SinC New England Chapter -- I even get to be president for 2010 -- which may be far more work than I expected! Ho ho ho!

Jennie Bentley said...

Joyce, my husband's so well-trained he ran a housecleaning service for 12 years. Had more business than he knew what to do with. Until he got sick of it and went into real estate instead.

Gina, I'm sorry, but "Elf" does turn my stomach. The ending is really sweet, with the singing and the sleigh, but other than that, I find it vaguely embarrassing.

Karen, glad to give you a chuckle!

Pat, I love Hank too! Give her a hug for me, would you? She was my ITW mentor for a year, and blurbed Fatal Fixer-Upper, and she's supposed to be reading A Cutthroat Business right now, although I don't know if she is, since it was just for fun really, and not business. But I adore Hank!

Isolato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isolato said...

I confess I'm a sucker for Jimmy Stewart, but I think my favorite holiday movie is the Christmas-centric reincarnation of "Holiday Inn", "White Christmas". Part of why I like it is the language -- especially Bing Crosby's brand of dated, rapid-fire slang. When he calls Danny Kay's character a "weirdsmobile", I laugh every time. Some other choice Crosbyisms from the movie:

"I've got no squawks, no beefs." (I'm not upset.)
"Grab the cow." (Get the milk.)
"...way up there on one of those bleached chargers." (on a white horse.)

Did anyone ever talk like this in real life? Part of me likes to think so.

Hope some holiday cheer sneaks up on you, Gina. Maybe we can have a yuletide sing-along at Hobart group this week...

Karen in Ohio said...

Pat, I read your blog, and so agree with you! No matter how many chores are shared in a marriage, the bulk of the holiday burden ends up on the female half's shoulders. (Although I don't know exactly how that would work in a same-sex marriage, have to admit).

I once told my kids, "Girls, I did lie to you about Christmas. Santa is really a woman."

Annette said...

My excuse for not decorating is that the dust on all the stored decorations makes me sneeze and sniffle the entire time the stuff is up. So my decorations consist of a few ornaments given to me as gifts in recent years. They're hung on lampshades and shelves. And I have a couple of red candles. That's about it.

Bah humbug.

Patg said...

I love decorating, my stuff is all out the day after Thanksgiving--I never get out on black Friday even though the mass of people and crowds are something I love. And that weekend all my cards are written. I hate those progress report sheets, so I do individual notes. Gifts? I buy those all year long, so not too much to go out and buy, and the Internet is so convenient.
But I have to agree about It's A Wonderful Life. What a lousy title for someone who consistently did not get one thing he really wanted in life. And the Mary character is a representation of that creature the country wanted women to turn into after the war. Give up a good education and a chance to see something of the world to come home and housekeep and breed. Yuck!
White Christmas isn't much better with the usual Hollywood lovefest for itself and suggesting that putting on a show saves everything.
I like all the versions of A Christmas Carol, and Holiday Inn does show 'some' hard work to make something successful.
Oh, and since I was raised Byzantine (one of the original heretics from the Counsel of Niacia) I keep my tree up through 'real' Christmas on January 7, and feel we should really put it back up again in March when Christ is supposed to have really been born. I'm sure Patrick wouldn't mind giving up his day.

Isolato said...

I think the most interesting and powerful aspect (and the point) of "It's a Wonderful Life" is its conceit: the idea of deleting a single life from the world, your own life, as a way of emphasizing and evaluating the impact of that presence. "A Christmas Carol" actually uses a similar device, with Scrooge standing outside his life and observing objectively the upshot of things he did and did not do. It's a poignant and eerie exercise, I think, and one that tends to point to the unconscious effects of our lives, not just our conscious acts of selfishness or charity.

And does George Bailey really get nothing he wants in life? He marries who he wants and has children whom he seems to love. He gives up dreams of travel and a potential career in architecture, but helps many others realize the more modest dream of owning a home. A little depressing? Maybe. But who wants a protagonist for whom everything works out, even during the holidays?