I promise to play nice

Nothing says holidays like a cheese log — Ellen DeGeneres

Christmas is next Monday. And cheese logs are disgusting. Maybe I should be more excited about it. Christmas, I mean. But considering I don’t have children, I don’t have the opportunity to see it through their eyes and experience that child-like wonder about it and re-think the whole concept of Christmas.

I suppose I could be more excited if I had a significant other to share the holiday with. But I doubt that would happen. I’m not a traditionalist in that sense and it wouldn’t make any sense for me to be in a relationship with someone who puts in a lot value into something that strikes me as commercial and a bit capitalist. How much you love someone is equal to how much you spent on their gift. That’s my take on it, so no thanks.

Don’t even get me started on the religious aspect of Christmas. I respect all religions. Just don’t shove it down my throat or I will make sure the last words you say to me will be “You are going to burn in Hell for that.” To which I might reply, “I’ll see you there.”

I’m really not Scrooge. And let’s be honest, Scrooge has nothing on me.

I enjoy the holidays, usually on my terms. If that makes me sound a little inflexible, well… too bad. For me to enjoy the holidays in the company of others (regardless of whether they are friends or family), I have to want to be in their company. Seriously, who wants to be around someone who doesn’t want to be there? Serious killjoy vibes going off and who wants to feel that? And quite frankly, for anyone to tell the person who doesn’t want to be there to loosen up and give it a chance, just doesn’t understand or is at least lacking some empathy for that person. Guilting someone, bullying someone into putting on a happy face for a certain occasion will lead to nothing but grief in the future. Passive-aggressive, anyone?

Yeah, I’m speaking from experience. And this is not just tied to the holidays. It’s tied to expectations laid out by anyone who expects you to put forward your best face at any type of social gathering.

You have no idea how often I’ve wanted to disappear or how often I amused myself with guessing how the person standing in front of me or beside me would die. Like I said, Scrooge has nothing on me.

To be honest, I’d like to reduce the number of times I have to amuse myself with guessing how someone will die. It gets boring and tiresome. Give me lots of room to breath (and I mean LOTS of room) and I’ll be amenable to playing along… unless I really don’t like someone and I don’t care to be in their company.

It hasn’t been bad this past year. I’ll admit there were times where I did not care for the company of others because there were things that needed and demanded my attention, and I was sure as hell, not interested in letting life get in the way.

For 2018, I have one very specific goal I want to complete. And it will entail finding a way to not let life disrupt the pursuit of that goal. So, yes, there will be times I will be distracted or seem anti-social. I’d prefer to be described as laser-focused or hellbent. Actually, hellbent is a good description for me during these times. And if things get a little bumpy, you can call me murderous.

So now that I’ve given you the warning, I’ll be roasting a turkey, something I haven’t done in at least ten years. It’s probably more than ten years. So, why am I doing this now? Because a family member is obsessed with having turkey for Christmas dinner. Is this family member a traditionalist? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. Am I doing this to keep the peace? Yes. I’m also doing this to cut the wistful whining down to a minimum.

I enjoy cooking but there are far more interesting things to do than cook. I have stories to tell. I have research to do. I want to expose myself to things that inspire me. Right now, cooking is a function and not necessarily a pleasure.

For one day, I just have to cook a turkey and prepare the stuffing and sit with family. As a non-traditionalist kind of person, this is stifling and a bit claustrophobic. I’d rather have the simple pleasure of drinking tea, listening to music and working on my writing.

Yeah, yeah, Christmas comes once a year. Just do it for one day, right? Let me think about it.

Okay, I’ve thought about it. Still doesn’t change how I feel about expectations that are put on me during the holidays or any special occasion for that matter.

But I promise to play nice this Christmas. Well, I’ll try.

In need of a little ‘me’ time

During the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the best gift of all is simply the gift of time. I can’t think of anything a writer would appreciate more than being given time and space to work — Kate Klise

Holy crap, its December. That means Christmas is just around the corner. And unfortunately, the holidays just amplify my need to have ‘me’ time.

When I say this, I know there are some people (i.e. the odd family member and assorted acquaintances) who think the fact I live on my own must means I have an abundance of ‘me’ time coming out of my ass. Hate to say this, but there is a difference between living on my own and having a little ‘me’ time.

Doing the laundry, batch-cooking food for the upcoming week, running errands and grocery shopping do not constitute ‘me’ time. Not for me, at least. Probably for the last decade or so, my idea of ‘me’ time during the holidays has been to go watch a movie in a movie theatre or on Netflix and maybe push a ‘reset’ button once or twice.

This time, I’ll be watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It may be the movie I’ll watch on Christmas Eve. Haven’t decided yet. If I do, it’ll be my third time watching it. Yes, I said third. I have tickets for two different showings in the first week the movie opens. I’m pretty sure I had indicated in previous posts that I’m a nerd. But I also have a habit of watching a movie more than once in a theatre if I really like it. I’ve watched Moonlight twice and will buy the Blu-Ray once it comes out. I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the movie theatre six times. Yep. Nerd.

I suppose I should have watched Moonlight at least six times in the theatre considering that film still has me spellbound. And it is still possible to watch the movie four more times before Rogue One hits the screens. I think the only reason I haven’t watched it six times already is because there is this instinct to slowly digest the contents of that film. A fuller meal, perhaps. Moonlight is an entirely different beast from any film I have ever seen. Its resonance hasn’t left me from the first time I saw it. It only burrowed deeper into my bones the second time. I can’t imagine what that resonance will do to me when I do watch it for the sixth time, be it in the theatre or on Blu-Ray.

Watching movies constitutes ‘me’ time. Exercising is ‘me’ time, too. I also consider writing as ‘me’ time. To clarify, I’m not referring to writing for this blog, I’m referring to fiction writing. Storytelling. Creating a story is ‘me’ time. And while I love a good movie and giving my body a good sweat, working on my storytelling skills makes me happy and engaged.

During the holidays, I plan to have one or two whole days or more, sequestered away at home with music, hot tea or atole (a masa-based hot beverage) and my laptop and just write. I haven’t decided if I want to disconnect the landline and leave the cellphone on vibrate. That will most likely depend on how bananas I feel in the run-up to Christmas.

That reminds me, I think I have some Christmas shopping to do.

I’m saying it — Merry Christmas!

Time to pull on the snow pants, break out the toboggan, find a hill and go flying down it like a bat outta hell… okay more like flying down a hill like Calvin & Hobbes. Why? Why not?

Besides, Christmas arrives in a few days and the days leading up to it will be busy. A little grocery shopping for Christmas dinner. A little Christmas cheer with friends. Watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Watch a little Netflix. And sneak in some writing. Yep, it’ll be busy. And I’m actually looking forward to it.

Wow. No ‘bah humbug’ from me this year. However, Christmas is only four days away so… there’s ample opportunity to get this wrong.

Anyway, all the Christmas carols that have been playing on the radio got me thinking about O Holy Night. Of all the Christmas songs I’ve heard since I was a little brat or sang in a school choir (I realize the two are not mutually exclusive), O Holy Night is my favourite. Maybe it has something to do with the vocal range. Hitting that high note — when done correctly — can be spine-tingling.

While it’s lovely to hear a woman sing the song, I find a male voice far more interesting. Of course, this got me thinking about who could have performed the best rendition of the song. Cue the internet to offer up numerous opinions.

For example, the Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post came up with their picks of top versions of the song. And after listening to some of their top picks, I’m still at a loss. There are so many ways to perform that song. It’s so easy to make it over-the-top because of the natural build-up to the end of the carol. I’m not crazy about over-the-top. But I do appreciate it when it’s powerful; where the intent and meaning come across so clearly that you can’t help but be enthralled by it.

I suppose I’m drawn to the gospel style of performance of the carol. More specifically, black gospel. It’s so fierce, honest and true. Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson nails it. Jennifer Hudson does a lovely version as well.

But I also appreciate simplicity. I listened to American-Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright perform Cantique de Noël, the French version of the song and it was sweet, simple and humorous.

I also find myself partial to Dustin Kensrue’s rendition of the song. So simple. A man and his electric guitar. Surprisingly effective.

Another singer who kept it simple was Martina McBride. Performing at the Grand Old Opry, she sang the carol a cappella and it is impressive. Her ability to make the song dynamic and give it emotion and meaning is worth listening to.

Well, it’s time to toddle off and enjoy the Christmas season. To those of you who have faithfully read my blogs regardless of their quality — good, sketchy or otherwise — Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyeux Noël, ¡Feliz Navidad!

I leave you with a little Calvin & Hobbes. Why? Because they are total badasses.

I seriously need to find a toboggan…