Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas These Days

What's this? A complete Dickens Village with tiny people in a tiny carriage? Yes. Yes it is.

When Mr. L woke up the day after Thanksgiving and proclaimed "I can't wait to put up the Christmas lights" I knew that the shred of our city lifestyle to which I had believed I was clinging had officially slipped from my grip. We are in suburbia. It feels good just to admit it. Again, perhaps. "I am LIOLI. And I live in the suburbs." (Not sure why this didn't occur to me 6 months ago when we tried to go out for dinner after 9pm and found the only thing open in the entire city was Dairy Queen, but what gives?)

Last year at this time, we were enjoying the last of the big city's exploits: having cocktails at wood-paneled steak house lounges, traipsing through the giant ice-sculpture garden in the city park...this year, we're doing Christmas suburban style. We've hung Christmas lights (enough, certainly, for our house to be considered as a landing strip for any passing Alien vessels), we put up a tree*, we dusted off boxes of ornaments that had been in storage, and we set up all the random accoutrements of the season (advent calendars, flying elves, table-top santas and yes, a complete Dickens village replete with tiny people, some of whom are even skating with their tiny skates on a tiny ice-skating rink, a set-up which I feel compelled to point out came from Mr. L's side of the family.)

And I have to admit--though I am really more of an Advent type girl**--that all this stuff is pretty delightful. Maybe it's just that absence makes the heart grow fonder and next year all this will feel like a big pain in the ass and we'll go on a tropical vacation instead. But for now, I'm ready for Christmas. Wreaths and angels and things that smell like cinnamon in a kind of nauseating way...for all its consumerist undertones, it still feels pretty special.

Why is this? What is it about lights and trees and stockings and elves that sit on shelves that make you feel like a kid again? I've been thinking a lot recently about how it is exactly that we choose the life we want. And I realize I could choose to be disappointed that we traded in our urban jet-setting for a 60s ranch in a sea of 60s ranches and some strings of icicles.  But the gift I'm giving myself for Christmas is trying to love the life I have; to pour myself some eggnog, kick back, try not to think about our January electric bill and enjoy my little patch of Christmas in suburbia.***

*I wanted to go to a you-cut lot and fulfill my family tradition of wandering around in the cold for hours vetoing each other's suggestions until we all hate each other and ride home in silence with the tree we had to lay on the cold ground for an hour to cut down.....but Mr. L didn't believe that was a family tradition we needed to take on. Yet.....
**Yes, I am that type of pastor that would prefer not to have a Christmas carol pass my lips until Christmas Eve (as you will note Jesus has not yet born, yet we want to have shepherds visiting him as early as December 2? A theologically untenable position, at best.), but we all learn to compromise, right?
***Would some country artist please get started working on this song right now? Christmas in Suburbia?

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