I love Christmas People. Many people who are not official Christmas People are content to wait for Christmas. They go about their lives in an unassuming way until about a week or two before Dec 25th. They then leisurely slip into that fuzzy sweater of a feeling known as " The Christmas Spirit." Not Christmas People. Christmas people have been pining away and have donned their fuzzy, metaphorical sweaters around mid-November. They are so ready for Christmas that people often feel the need to bring them down a notch saying "It's not even Thanksgiving yet!" As if this admonishment could ever stop a Christmas Person. The end of November hits and they're ready to go. My wife is a Christmas Person. There have been moments in the past few weeks when I notice a gentle silence has fallen between us and a sort of wistful look has crept, stealthy as Silent Night, into Jacqui's eye.
"What are you thinking about?" I ask.
"I want it to be Christmas!" She says, emphasizing the word Christmas.
She has the gift of elongating those two syllables with a delicate mix of pained longing balanced with nostalgic mayhem. In one word you get the feeling of child-like excitement blended with deeply grown up longing for all things cozy and sweet. It is a thing to behold.
Christmas People have needs. Mostly they require Christmas-esque activities to keep all their festive energy at bay. If for some reason they can't get to these activities--look out. They may be give in to strange impulses in inappropriate social situations.
Blockbuster Guy: Alright your total is $5.98. Great. Alrighty your movie will be due back on Wednesday night.
Christmas Person: ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH, SWEETLY SINGING OVER THE PLAINS!!!
Blockbuster guy: Um...what? Sorry, did you need anything else?
Christmas Person: FA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA...LA-LA-LA-LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's important that they have an outlet. Jacqui and I started making Christmas cookies today. We listened to Christmas music and lit candles. The dough has to chill over night, but I know that she can't wait to cut it out into stars, snowmen, and Christmas trees. Earlier we discovered that we don't have any cookie cutters for this job. I suggested that we could just make round cookies. My wife looked at me as if I'd tried to throw a bowling ball at her head. "Round cookies aren't Christmas cookies!" she explained.
In addition to the more recent outpouring of baked goods, our home has been ringing with the sound of Christmas songs for the past few weeks. I like it. That's the thing about Christmas People, they have a great way of drawing you into their festive attitude. Appropriate music is essential for any Christmas Person. Christmas music I have noticed is a strange phenomena.
There is no real push to have ones own person Christmas music tastes reflect a growing awareness of musical appreciation. Mostly I've noticed that people just want to listen to what they remember hearing as children. It doesn't matter if it's the strangest, or least artistic piece of music in the world. Those things are simply not important. When I was growing up my dad was a big fan of A Very Johnny Mathis Christmas, Andy Griffith Christmas and our whole family loved Amy Grant's Home for the Holidays. To me that music is Christmas. It's what I secretly long to hear. Jacqui's favorites are Christmastime by Michael W. Smith and Christmas Hits by a group called Boney M, a 1970's ABBA-esque group from Germany with strong Jamaican and Dutch influences. I love it. Everyone seems to have their own personal favorites, it's great.
My dad is a big Christmas Person. One of my favorite illustrations of this fact is a tradition of his I remember distinctly from childhood. You'd walk in the door to my house and it would smell like a cinnamon bomb had exploded and had covered our home in the delightful sent of holiday cheer. At ground zero of the festive blast my dad could inevitably be found stirring a large pot of mulling spices on the stove. For those of you who's dads were not big on the mulling spices it's basically like simmering a giant pot of potpourri complete with large berries, cinnamon sticks and other sundry scented items. Nevermind that the air in my home made your eyes water as if you were chewing a large wad of Big Red, or that the pots he used inevitably made all later dishes taste vaguely of cinnamon. There he'd be stirring away like a mad man. "Can you smell it?!" he say "Smells like Christmas!!"
My best friend, Morgan, is also a Christmas Person. He gets the itch just when the first snow starts to fall. By early December he's already impulse bought 2 or 3 new Christmas movies and is watching them on a loop. This past year it was an entertaining cocktail of: A Christmas Story (You'll shoot your eye out!"), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the Jim Carrey version), The Santa Clause 1 and 2 (A Tim Allen gem) and a plethora of others. I love this!
He's also big on the Christmas music. His tastes are refined and varied ranging from the classic strains of Bing Crosby to freakin' out electric guitar solos of the Trans Siberian orchestra. Like any true Christmas Person Morgan also loves Christmas lights. He likes to have them year round, but especially around Christmas. Morgan also has two cats. They also love Christmas lights. They love them in a different way. They love them in the sense that they love to destroy them. It's a potent combination and battle of wills the will cats always win.
One of my fondest memories regarding Christmas lights and Morgan occured when we lived together in college. We decided to spice up our dorm room with some nice icicle lights. You know the kind? They hang vertically in lots of different strands. They really are a sight to see; a pretty and cozy glow all for $15.00. Unfortunately they are somewhat heavier than their single strand cousins and all we had to adhere them to our metal ceiling runner was a nice thick role of clear packing tape. We thought we were golden. We were wrong. By the time New Years had rolled around the thing had fallen down and been re-attached so many times that what had originally been a nice holiday decoration was now, for all intensive purposes, a giant, ugly ball of festively lit tape. Good times.
I also associate Christmas time with Morgan because for the past few years he and his family has invited Jacqui and I to their house for a Christmas Eve steak dinner. That's just behavioral conditioning at it's best. To me nothing says Christmas better than a thick steak. Mmmmm steak.
So. Christmas People. They're an undeniable force. You know 'em and I know 'em. Maybe you're even one yourself. If so let me just say a cheery thank you for all the work you do to get others in the Christmas spirit. Crank those carols if you feel the urge, bake those cookies when you get a hankering, light your pyres of candles, hang the stockings early and forcibly hand out candy canes to anyone who snidely tells you "It's still 4 weeks away!" We need people like you!
An early Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!