One year, the day after Thanksgiving, my mother opened off the holiday season by sliding a cardboard box filled with two gigantic stuffed bears down our front staircase and calling out "Here comes the Christmas crap!"
When I was very young those two bears were my size and magical; at that point I was a teenager and they were just two oversized stuffed bears -- as my mom aptly put it, "Christmas crap."
I guess it's easy to believe that the Christmas season is beautiful and mysterious and anticipatory if you're five; if a string of lights wound around a doorway causes you to exclaim, as my sister once did, "It looks like the entrance to Disneyland!"
Later this afternoon I am going to take that damn tree back to the Target, and tomorrow I am going to go to Eastern Market and see if I can find something a little less plastic with which to adorn my dream apartment. It probably won't be a full-sized Christmas tree, but it will be something. Maybe candles, or handmade stockings. Maybe a plant. I don't know.
I could go all DIY and make my own decorations, but my creative instincts are best kept to experiments in cooking. (This morning I tried; I took some tissue paper from an ATL bag and folded it into quarters and attempted to cut it into a snowflake, like this one guy suggested to do on the NYT. It looked like a three-year-old had done it. I put it in the recycle bin.)
So I'm sitting here, staring at my apartment, which is otherwise filled with lovely natural wood and my pretty parquet and my five framed photographs of places I've been and my sixth framed cutout of the newspaper on the day Obama won the election, and now my ghastly plastic tree, and thinking "well, if I put handmade, locally-made red and green candles in the windows, if I maybe bought some hand-knit stockings and hung them across my bookcase, if someone at the Eastern Market is better at hot-gluing things to pinecones than I am and maybe I bought one of those and put it on my table... then would it feel like the anticipation of a holiday?"
What does one do to herald in a season when one is too old to believe in the magical properties of a stuffed bear, too "discerning" to consider a string of colored lights around a door transformative, too depressed by the news of the Black Friday mob death (not to mention the grossness and the ugliness of all the disposable plastic garbage available at Wal-Mart and Target) to want to do a lot of shopping, and too unsure of what the best ways are of returning any sense of celebration to a holiday that has long lost its ritual, but maybe it would be nice to have something special in one's apartment, because it's friggin' Christmas for Christ's sake!
Oh -- and too frugal to believe that one should spend a great deal of money on this kind of thing.
(Btw, GoriGirl, thx for the suggestion re: potted live plant. Will look for one when I am out tomorrow morning.)