I love holiday movies even though they are mental pap; and they all have the same general plot – Christmas Grinch meets Christmas Elf and after a five-day fling they are as committed as Canada Geese and thereafter enjoy a holly, jolly holiday season and live life happily ever after.
In many instances, restoring a kid’s belief in the magic of Christmas is worked into the theme and sometimes Santa intervenes to make wishes come true. Add in the commercials which promote the perfect Christmas and the making of warm and fuzzy memories today for tomorrow. But watching them makes me reflect on whether my Christmases past were less than perfect, and question whether my warm and fuzzy memories are less than memorable.
In almost every movie, the characters manage to find the ultimate tree which is always presented as freshly cut, perfectly shaped and then beautifully decorated without a hitch or a bitch.
My warm and fuzzy memories of Christmases past are not fodder for a holiday movie. They always started with the Christmas tree. Over the decades, each year created angst around finding the right tree, hauling it home, cutting and getting it into the stand, trying to evenly distribute the lights (with unwanted advice from a couch potato), trimming it with a hodge-podge of ornaments, while at the same time exercising control to maintain civility with my spouse for the kids’ sake.
After the kids had grown and we old folks were on our own, we invested in an artificial pre-lit tree. It was like a no fuss, no muss instant Christmas and a few fresh holiday greens in a floral arrangement provided the necessary pine scent. Why didn’t we do this decades ago? (Maybe those perfect trees in the movies were artificial pre-lits too!)
Our artificial tree was lovely until my husband rammed it in the rafters of the garage for off-season storage and damaged it. As a result of this carelessness, last Christmas I issued a hollow threat to buy a new tree for 2015, much to his chagrin. The hollow threat became reality. Why? Because after last Christmas he bagged that magnificent tree and left it on the patio.
In spring, I asked him to get rid of it, meaning to get it off the patio and stored in the garage. Then in early December this year, I suggested he should bring the tree in, at which point he informed me he had gotten rid of it as I had asked. Surely he was joking. This man never gets rid of anything and, more significantly, certainly never listens to me. He wasn’t joking. Now he was suggesting we should get a cut tree like the good old days. He needed to be reminded of our warm and fuzzy memories of tree set-up.
It brought back memories of the time when my husband packed the kids in the station wagon, drove two hours to the lake so they could pick out and cut down a tree. It was a good day for the Dad and lads. Too bad that the tree was stripped bare of needles after travelling on the car roof top for two hours at highway speed. It was going to be the year of the Charlie Brown tree — until I noted the forest tent caterpillar cocoons adorning every branch. We were off to the tree lot.
Then, there was the year after an evening of holly jolly tree decorating when, in our absence, the tree fell over and damaged the hardwood floor, destroying most of the glass ornaments. I was not filled with the holiday spirit that day, although the memory does bring a smile today.
I also noted in the majority of these movies a perfect turkey is served up on a platter at the table, surrounded by luscious garnish, with the man of house proudly wielding a carving set ready to distribute the cut of choice to each diner. Does that happen in real life? In our household, the bird is carved up in the kitchen. The man in our household should be dressed in a Hazmat suit during the carving and it takes me a day or two to wash down the counter, backsplash and floor after the event.
In the movies, there is always the beautifully wrapped parcel presentation where the recipient, portraying an ecstatic demeanour, sighs and expounds that it is the perfect gift. (They never look for a gift receipt!) Hmm.
In this household, Mom has always done the Christmas shopping and Dad’s only excursion into the retail zoo was to shop for a gift for Mom, usually on Dec. 24. So it was a special warm and fuzzy Christmas when Dad walked in with a large wrapped parcel for each of the teenagers. Dad shopping? They were excited and curious as to what he might have selected for them. The look on their faces Christmas morning was priceless when they opened these gifts and discovered colour-coded towels. Yes, the number of towels they used in a day was an issue with Dad and now he could track the culprits. They didn’t share his humour then, but they do today.
Our Christmases are not Hollywood perfect, but they are perfect for us. It is a time of sharing merriment and joy with the family and friends we love. There is no perfect family, tree or turkey and the gifts are sometimes questionable, but each happenstance creates a warm and fuzzy memory to be retold countless times over the years and though the generations and gives the gift that keeps on giving — laughter. I wait with bated breath for this year’s special memory.
Merry Christmas to each of you, and may you each enjoy your own perfect holiday celebration, whatever it may be.