So, I'm adding the x-mas music to the iPod, as Erica is also doing. "Too early" my ass--I've been ready for Christmas for weeks. I know others feel differently (the Boy, for instance, thinks I'm a nut), and I'm not advocating for the pre-Halloween holiday rush or anything, but I do see merit in getting preparations done during November so that the whole of December can be reserved for enjoying the holiday rather than stressing out about house decorating, etc. It's also how I've been raised: my mom LOVES Christmas. I mean, I can't express in words how big of a holiday this is in our little family. We have multiple trees, some with themes (s'mores ornaments, teeny beanie babies (adorable, trust me), "my" little tree, with all of the ornaments I've accumulated over the years), and a large, dense, elaborately decorated tree that's absolutely mesmerizing. I love watching the lights and studying the ornaments, many of which have become like old friends, most of whose stories I know (and hopefully won't forget, as I've been told time and time again that someday this all will be mine, which is both gratifying and terrifying).
My mom has told me that when she was young, they never prepared for Christmas--some years her dad would come home with a tree on Christmas Eve, some years not, and either way the tree would be out for the trash on Dec. 26. She recalled one year when he came home drunk and never got around to decorating the thing, spending the night instead dragging tinsel for the cat until he passed out. She was so heartbroken to wake up to an empty tree that she swore she'd really, really celebrate Christmas right with her family--and maybe she's overcompensated a bit, but it's not a coincidence that this is my favorite time of year. When I came home from the hospital for my first Christmas, days after entering the world, Mom said I stared at the tree so very intently that it would keep me occupied for hours. And this year, when I won't be home to see the tree till Dec. 22, I take comfort in the fact that it's already decorated and the lights are up on the outside of the house. When I do finally take my exam and go home, I will spend as much time as I possibly can in front of that tree, drinking it in, bathing myself in green and red and blue and yellow light, listening to Christmas songs and remembering when I was finally old enough to help with the tree, how much it meant to me to be able to hang an ornament or twelve, to participate in an annual ritual rife with history and meaning. I could do without presents, honestly--but I absolutely can't live without a tree, no matter how small. (I have one of these plugged in right now.)
Nor can I live without holiday music, which is, I suppose, what got me off on this tangent. High on my list this year is Aimee Mann's new holiday album and Sufjan's set (though I'm strangely captivated by all these Billy Idol Christmas Videos). What, dear readers, gets you in the holiday mood?