(I feel like you need to be warned that there is a mushy message at the end of this post. Please try not to be alarmed when you come across it.)
Nine days until Christmas. It’s getting pretty close to the big day and I’ve just started building a delightful little Christmas buzz. The highlight for me so far? The other night I bought my first Christmas tree. It’s a modest little five-foot thing made of green plastic, but it’s the first tree I’ve ever bought and I got to decorate it with Lou whilst listening to A Christmas Sing With Bing (this album is played every Christmas by my dad and by his dad before that, so it’s a pretty big deal for me).
This has helped me to acquire a little holiday cheer, albeit a little late in the proceedings. A lack of festive feeling never used to be a problem. I think a lot of that is down to where I used to work. For several years, I worked for Starbucks Coffee Company (across many stores in many places). There, Christmas started immediately after Thanksgiving. I mean it. It was usually a day or so afterwards that the store’s decor would change completely and then Christmas had arrived. The red cups came out, the decorations went up and the holiday-themed music of all styles started. A solid month of festive bombardment has a way of either making you embrace the holidays or it forces you to check into some kind of institution that is stocked with rubber walls and medication. Being someone who is always eager to avoid situations that would put me in the news for all the wrong reasons, I learned to love the season and accept that Christmas now lasted for a whole month of every year.
I felt that way every year up until a few years ago when I left Starbucks and went to a different retail establishment. This place doesn’t have the same Christmas cheer that Starbucks did. There are little to no decorations (no tinsel or freely roaming Santa hats). Very little Christmas music is played (not even Mariah Carey gets a look in and she gets everywhere this time of year). No longer do I work with food and drink and so there are no festive beverages to warm me on a cold morning. No aroma of freshly brewed coffee with hints of gingerbread and nutmeg. Just the cold, hard scent of cleaned and polished commercialism. My current work environment just does not give off the same festive wintery zing. This isn’t entirely a bad thing. Now I rarely ever get to the edge of Christmas-induced psychosis, just one broken biscuit away from a string of scarily emotive headlines (there is such a thing as bad press).
This year, I’m working to build the cheer in different ways. Buying the tree was just one of them. Walking home in the crisp air with a tree under my arm and a bag of baubles, tinsel and lights in my hand, I felt like an extra out of It’s a Wonderful Life. This weekend I’m attending a legendary Christmas party that I’ve only ever heard stories about. That should help too as I have been promised good food, wine and Christmas songs at the piano (yep, classier than I deserve). The other night I watched a double bill of Scrooged and Elf (I highly recommended these films) and found myself thoroughly cheered up by the time the credits rolled.
Although I will be working all through the Christmas period and Lou will be away with her family for most of it, I intend to bring back some of the feelings of Christmases long gone (I’ve been mainlining gingerbread flavoured coffee, so that’s a start). Hopefully as I work to rekindle the sensation in myself I can spread it to others as a sort of Christmas wildfire (but, you know, without the risk of property damage or the destruction of wildlife).
Happy Holidays everyone. I hope whatever it is that you are celebrating brings you happiness and togetherness as we continue on into 2015.