Monday, December 09, 2013

Christmas Trees and Quiet Afternoons

Obligatory Christmas tree photo. 

This weekend was cold and dreary, which was perfect for finally getting a Christmas tree and decking the hell out of it. We only started getting a real tree when we moved to Wilmington, because this was the first time we lived in a house big enough to host a six foot tree for a month at a time. We don't have a ton of ornaments yet, but we get one or two new ones each year, and it's been fun to grow a collection slowly. My favorite thing about decorating the family tree as a kid was pulling out all the handmade or commemorative ornaments, and remembering the story or moment that when along with each one as we added it to the tree. Nathan and I are well on our way to recreating that experience. 

Captain Christmas.

A few people asked if we photoshopped this hat onto Seamus. We did not. It is, in fact, a Santa hat for dogs, with a chin strap that fits snugly around his head. He looks happy in this photo, but in reality he did not enjoy playing Santa and we only made him wear the hat long enough to get the perfect photo and post it to Facebook. After, we gave him many treats and told him he was a good boy. We didn't even attempt to get a similar photo of Calvin, because while he is sweet and snuggly and beautiful, he's also a total asshole. I gave him a treat anyway. Don't tell Nathan. 

A quick word about Christmas: Nathan and I aren't religious, and I regard Christmas as a secular holiday, despite it's obvious Christian undertones. The truth is that a winter holiday full of lights and family and goodwill has existed for centuries, across societies, before and after Jesus. Today, in America, it's easy and accepted to call it "Christmas." Plus I was raised Catholic, and my family celebrates Christmas, and it's what I'm used to saying. I spent a few years disliking Christmas very much. When I was fifteen my grandmother died in a car accident on Christmas Eve, and the social pressure of buying gifts is hard on people who don't have a lot of money. The last few years, though, I've started to appreciate the holiday again. Maybe it's because this is the one time of the year we're pretty much guaranteed to see at least one of our families. Maybe it's the fact that the older we get, the less emphasis we place on presents. Maybe it's simply that, in the middle of a dark, cold winter, coming home to a tree full of lights and a dog in a funny hat is just plain nice. No matter the reason, it's a welcome change. 




In non-holiday news, now that the semester is mostly over and Nathan is working full time again, I've had some time alone, with nothing to do, which has been amazing. A few weeks ago, my friends and I were discussing the Myers-Briggs test (as it turns out, I am an INFJ, and I'm still trying to figure out what that means) and the first question is whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert. I wasn't sure which category to claim. I like being alone, but I also have a pretty killer group of friends and enjoy spending time with them. 

"Think about it this way," someone said. "When you need to recharge, do you need time alone, or with friends?" 

"Oh god, alone, definitely alone," I said. Thus introvert was born. 

At any rate, being alone the last few days was really, really nice. I baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (recipe via Smitten Kitchen), read a book, finished season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (definitely the least-excellent season of all, in my opinion), and worked on my novel. Oh, and somewhere in there I helped host the annual MFA Holiday Reading, which is always the fanciest reading of the year. I wore a dress and red lipstick, but I have no selfies to prove it. Instead, I offer three of my beautiful friends, reading their amazing work. 


Needless to say, it's been a good few days. 

Currently on the to-do list: tie up some end-of-the-semester loose ends, finish the current draft of my novel and email it to my thesis director; get a few presents for my sisters and parents; stare at the pretty lights on the Christmas tree; and continue reading for pleasure. I have to write a syllabus for next semester, but that can wait until after the holidays. I think I've earned a little break. 

9 comments:

  1. Good to see that we're not crazy in enjoying putting up a tree/decorations. People always give us the side eye because we are adamantly non-religious,but still enjoy the holiday.

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    1. The holidays are so personal, and I think everyone celebrates them differently/for different reasons. We just happen to be extra different. ;)

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  2. I'm an INFJ, too. What I've noticed, as far as the introvert/extrovert dimension, is that when I feel connected to other people I am very open and really soak up time with those people. When I can't connect with others (because I don't know them well, don't like them, or whatever) I find social situations painful and emotionally taxing. I think of myself as a natural introvert who can be social under the right circumstances, if that makes sense!

    Out of curiosity, what is Nathan? I'm always interested in knowing the MB types of partners other INFJs choose.

    Also, congrats on the Ploughshares publication!! Very happy for you!

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    1. I tend to like chatting with strangers, but mostly because I like to hear about them. I don't really talk much about myself unless I'm with good friends. (Says the person with a public blog...)

      We had a harder time figuring Nathan out, but finally decided he is a ISTP. But I should admit that we didn't take any actual tests to figure this out - a friend who's sister had to do it for work told us the gist of the questions, and we went from there. Still, it's interesting, and I'd like to learn more about it!

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  3. I feel and have felt the same way about Christmas. A secular, loving, merry Christmas for the win! The thing is, if you boycott Christmas, you're still immersed in it because of the larger culture in which we live here in the US. I think it's much better to make peace with the holiday and find ways to celebrate it and enjoy it so that it feels authentic to you. For example, I'm big on peace and joy as my holiday theme. I buy cards that use those words, I like decorations that have those themes. Peace and joy feels authentic to me as a person who genuinely wants to wish people the best.

    Posts like these are my favorite. Well, they're among my many favorites ;-)

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    1. You are so right! It takes too much energy to avoid Christmas in December in America. And just because you embrace some aspects of it, doesn't mean you can't be selective and make it your own. I love the peace & joy focus! I may steal that idea. :)

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  4. Your tree is beautiful! I'm very much the same way - non-religious and very anti-Christmas in response to my past for a few years. But now I can't help it, I frickin' love decorating the house. Funny how things change :)

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    1. I know! Yesterday I was in Target looking at tree skirts. Tree skirts! Who am I?!

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  5. We feel the same way about Christmas being a secular holiday. My mostly Catholic family doesn't seem to mind but some of John's certainly does.

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