So my house looks like crap. I say that a lot, and people imagine a pleasantly cluttered artist’s space and look at me indulgently like, “Of course it does, silly woman. That’s the price you pay!”
No. Seriously. I don’t have enough stuff to go on hoarders, and we manage to keep our eating spaces relatively clean, and sometimes we clean the bathrooms, but seriously? The kids don’t invite people over unless those people have been warned, the kids have vetted the prospective visitor’s own home, and I myself have somehow indebted the kid by taking him to the movies and glutting him with popcorn while my own children ply him with slushies in order to keep said visiting child from disliking us upon sight of the Lane Family Crapmansion, because we all know it’s possible.
So in order to decorate this year, we had to clean the house. First we had to excavate the little kids’ room, then we had to excavate the living room from all the crap that we moved out of the little kids’ room. The living room was unwalkable for a week—we had to move shit to the corner to see the television—and generally?
We were about to become a reality television show, just Mate and me, buried up to our armpits in old Legos and stuffed animals, looking at each other in complete bemusement saying, “Where in the hell did all this crap come from?” while the kids wailed, “NO, YOU CAN’T THROW THAT AWAY, I MIGHT PLAY WITH IT SOME YEAR!!!”
But we did it. We got it all cleaned and sent craploads of stuff to the Goodwill and the kids now have a place to play and we have…
A place to put the tree. Yes. We did all that so we could put our Christmas tree somewhere.
Because it’s important. It’s important that we take a moment to celebrate, to light up our world, to give each other gifts. It’s important to watch Zoomboy labor over a model of Santa’s Little Sweatshop, er, Ski Lodge, and to steal our kids’ letters to Santa to see if we can make their dreams come true. (We can—imagine our surprise when we actually FOUND Air Swimmers in Toys R US--- woo-hoo!) It’s important to sing songs, to gather warmly, to have a time in the year when you can anticipate seeing family and doing for them the things you can only think wistfully on during the rest of the year.
It just is.
So, when I wrote The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur Bearing Critters, I had this sense of “doing” for the people we love. I do this. I make people things, when I first get attached. Of course, a person can only use so many hats or pairs of hand-knit socks, and then they just generally have to rely on my otherwise poor sense of gift giving for the rest of our acquaintanceship, but in the beginning, I like to demonstrate my love and high esteem. I MAKE them things. That’s the essence of Rance in this story. He really has one means of communication—and that’s actual, concrete actions. It’s the only thing he has to offer Ben, and because Ben has a warm and generous heart, he sees that it’s the perfect thing to look for in a mate. It’s a very visceral thing—and it’s one of the things that knitting means to me personally, and that’s what I think gives this story so much heart.
Puppy, Car, and Snow, is sort of a different short Christmas story. Scotty and Ryan are an established couple—they know each other’s families, they are entwined in each other’s lives—and that brings about it’s own sense of complications. Ryan’s mom is sort of a dragon lady—“If Passive met Aggressive, had a child and groomed her for prep school, that child still would not have met Taylor Connors’ approval.” Scotty doesn’t meet her approval either. This is a subtler story in some ways—every family has its uncomfortable dynamics. We all have the family member who makes us grit our teeth, and we’ve all had experiences of trying to meet our parents’ approval. I know that before my parents got to know my beloved Mate, they were absolutely certain he was not the right guy for me. Of course, twenty-five years after I first brought him home to help me study for my homework (he thought) they now love him more than they love me—and I’m thrilled. But there were some sticky moments there when staying in the kitchen with my step-mom was tantamount to throwing myself on the disapproval grenade to save him. (Now it’s throwing myself on the disapproval grenade as a simple act of martyrdom for myself, but he’s out in the garage, swapping stories with my dad, so it’s okay.) The thing is, that even with this uncomfortable dynamic, very few families actually amputate members from their core—usually they simply exist together in an uncomfortable gathering of mismatched personalities and try not to whump into each other as they struggle clumsily to work as a whole, functioning body. Families are stuck with each other—and sometimes the joy of a day like Christmas is that a family can turn that into a blessing instead of a curse.
So I love Christmas. I love the movies, I love the music. I love watching my children get excited and decorating the house and spoiling them rotten. I love watching my daughter cook and making people fun things and wrapping presents. I love celebrating my family with all of their foibles, and doing for them when usually they can do nicely for themselves. I think that’s why (so far!) I have such happy Christmas stories. There are times when my angst prefers to sit back, drink a glass of eggnog, and take a nap, letting my joy party on.
Can be found HERE
Can be found HERE
'Kay. If you know the Soooper Sekrit password...Then tell it in the comment section, and you may get an extra chance to win one of Amy's amazing books. Just do it. Dooooo eeeeett! You know you wanna. And for fuck's sake, leave me an email addy so if you win I can give the addy to Amy and she can send you a freaking book!!