Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rachael is Sparkly

Sometimes I think I should try harder to be a grinch. I'm often (but not always) surrounded by them. People make very, very good points about holidays lights going up right after the 4th of July. And it's true, it seems like we just finished summer, and we're eating turkey for dinner next week, and then the Christmas shopping season will be upon us (BOOKS FOR EVERYONE!), and then eggnog will keep us merry, and then POOF! it will be all over again.

Sometimes I do a good job of hiding my excitement. How crass. How commercial. How gauche.

But inside, my heart is doing little shiny sleigh-bell cartwheels and hoping it will snow in the East Bay, like it did once when I was about six (I'll never forget my disappointment when Mom told Christy and me it was snowing and ushered us outside to look at the flakes -- I could barely see them, and WHERE WAS ALL THE WHITE STUFF? The world just looked like the world! I could not make a snowman! She was full of crap!).

Last year was hard. It was the first year without my family's holiday center: our mother. She'd died over the summer, and we were terrified to do it without her. We weren't grownup enough to hold the traditions without her. No one could cook the stollen, the lebkuchen, the fruitcake, the plum pudding but her. Who would play the piano while we pretended to not want to sing? I felt sick every time I thought about it, and I was grateful that I had to work (and felt guilty about feeling grateful -- good times).

But on a fluke, in early December I went to New York on a cheap flight found online with some friends. We found our holiday spirit. We tried to make it to the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center and failed to make it through the crush of the crowds, but found beer instead. We marveled at the skating rinks. We watched the lights go up all over town. We listened to carols being piped out into the cold air. I visited my agent and my publisher for the first time in my life:

I remembered again what that happiness felt like, that excitement that came from looking at sparkling lights reflected in happy, loving faces. And I found it, when I went home for a Christmas that had been delayed until the day I could get home after my shift, for a Christmas that had been made less traditional and more about being together, remembering. It was hard, but good.

And still surprisingly sparkly.


toni in florida said...

Hope this Christmas is not as hard, but every bit as sparkly.

Martha Flynn said...

you are ALWAYS sparkly. don't fight it!

tina ambury said...

Snow is overrated. No, really it is.
What I love about snow is how my daughters feel about it and how we celebrate it as a family.
Until the dirty wet slush dampens our spirits.
But then we come in doors for hot chocolate and bacon butties, forget the slush and remember the fun.
Christmas is in your heart and _your_ heart _is_ sparkly. Like Martha says, don't fight it...

L.G.C. Smith said...

Rachael, you made me cry! Harrumph. Here's to a bright and sparkly holiday season in 2009.

I know what you mean about snow. The three years I lived on Guam as a kid permanently romanticized snow for me. It's so pretty! Cold weather was a much-prized novelty with snow its most magical emblem. Now I settle for a day or two of tule fog.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Oh Rachael, I remember seeing those pictures a year ago when you went off to NY! And look what a year has wrought...I am glad you reminded me it's ok to be unabashedly into it, too.

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