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Friday, December 24, 2004


Christmas Eve

This is one of those days that is supposed to have a degree of ceremony to it, but until we go to church with my parents later, and then out to dinner, and then drive past the house with all the lights in Silver Spring, with the annual Beatles marathon on 94.7 - until then, it's just another day. I'm returning phone calls and making travel arrangements for a trip we're taking in January, and doing laundry, and these feel decidedly like the wrong things to be doing on Christmas Eve - aren't I supposed to be sipping eggnog by the fire, or watching children scamper, or baking Christmas cookies?

I always feel conflicted at Christmas - on the one hand, I feel like a hypocrite celebrating, since I consider myself someone who was raised Christian rather than someone who is Christian...this is the only day of the year I go to church. And so part of me feels like it's wrong to celebrate at all, and yet, it is truly one of the only ceremonies in my life, one of the only traditions, and that matters to me. Rituals matter.

And this year my extended family changed our ritual a bit - we're each only buying a gift for one other person, instead of everyone buying everyone gifts, since it was feeling kind of gross, the amount of money we were all spending, when we have so much already. We also tried to do a community service project together but could never quite coordinate it; I'm going to try to arrange something for early in the new year. Of course my parents and my husband and I are not reining in the gift-giving, but that feels different to me...I am being completely honest when I say that I could live without the gifts I receive, but I would be sad not to give them gifts, and I would miss our tradition of the morning spent around the tree, opening stockings, taking breaks to nibble on whatever yummy breakfast food my mom has made, etc.

On a completely unrelated note, this morning I noticed that the persimmons are finally gone from the persimmon tree that my dog and I walk by every morning. Yes, persimmons - doesn't that seem like something exotic that you never really encounter in everyday life? But one morning this fall, there they were, these gorgeous, reddish-orange fruits hanging from a tree on our route. They were beautiful. And even after the leaves fell off the tree and every other tree around, there they still were, these gorgeous, glowing orbs... until this week. Now there are little nubs where they used to be and I wonder what happened, because there are no marks on the sidewalk, no remains, and if they'd fallen, or even if the squirrels got them, they would have surely left a trace.

Something I've been wondering about: with the leaves gone from almost every single tree, how is it that on some trees, these dead, brown leaves are still hanging on?

Merry Christmas...

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