Once every seven years or so, with some sort of adjustment made for Leap Year, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately this was one of those years. I don’t eat meat, hate cranberry sauce, despise stuffing and am perplexed about why anyone would add marshmallow to a perfectly delicious yam. In other words, as holidays go, it’s not one of my favorites.
When I was little, I had my own annual tradition of trying to figure out if my birthday was going to fall early or late that year. It took me a long time to remember that my birthday never changed, just Thanksgiving did. Although I adore the original idea of Thanksgiving, I think it’s pretty sad that we need a national holiday to remind us to appreciate things. I’m good at acknowledging beauty and nature and everyday art all year long. I’d like to think I’m also grateful for the people around me, but I know that’s not nearly as true as it should be. I could do way better on that front. I just wish that a date on the calendar didn’t bring me to that conclusion.
I like Bastille Day myself. And Immaculate Conception Day. In high school, my best friend had sex with her boyfriend for the first time on Immaculate Conception Day. I’ve always thought that was a pretty awesome decision. He made her pancakes afterward and for years we referred to December 8th as Pancake Day. I guess I still do.
Of course, like most people, I like Christmas the best. Although I’m Jewish, growing up we celebrated every holiday we could – but just the fun parts. We had a tree and presents and a Menorah and 8 days of presents. Mostly, it was about the presents.
Once, in primary school, the teacher divided us into two groups – the Jews and the Christians (!) – and gave us each half of the blackboard to write what our holiday meant to us. While all the other kids crammed to get a teensy space to express themselves, I got the ENTIRE half of the blackboard to myself! My mom still remembers me running into the house after school, yelling, “I’m so happy we’re Jewish! I’m so happy we’re Jewish!”
And that’s just one of the many Christmas miracles I’ve experienced. There’s really nothing I don’t love about the holiday. The smell of the trees as you pass them on the street is intoxicating. I’m crazy about Christmas music – and have a ridiculously huge amount which I listen to all year long. And I adore figuring out the exact perfect presents to give.
Then there’s the man in red. No one believes me, but I once saw Santa fly across the moon. I swear on a stack of yule logs. It was Christmas Eve, of course, and I was sitting on my floor looking up at the moon from my bedroom window and just like that, it happened! There he was, sleigh and all. I flipped out and started screaming, but by the time anyone else ran in, he had already passed by.
On the night before Christmas this year, I dreamed I was so completely exhausted, but unable to fall asleep. My constant tossing and turning frustrated me to no end which made it even more impossible to drift off. Then suddenly – in reality – I was woken up by a middle-of-the-night text. Even though I had been asleep for a fair amount of time by that point, I wasn’t remotely rested. I never enjoyed the bit of sleep I did experience because I dreamed I had insomnia.
Maybe this thinly veiled metaphor was Santa’s gift to me this year. Naturally I had been hoping for something more tangible, but he is the gift-giving master, so who am I to question it?
For me, Christmas has always been about receptiveness while New Year’s is all intention, all the time. I wonder if Santa makes resolutions. “Next year, I will only have one cookie per block”? Nah, probably not.
Recently, in a fit of trying to de-clutter my life, I gathered all the partially-filled notebooks and blank books I have scattered throughout my apartment and put them all in one pile. It’s sort of ridiculous how many there are. And in those many books are many New Year’s Resolutions from many years past. Apparently, every year I wanted to accomplish the same things.
I’m only going to make two New Year’s Resolutions this year, and both are brand spanking new to 2011. The first is to drink more water. I already drink a lot, mind you, but I figure I’ll stack the deck in my favor and give myself a resolution I can actually keep. My safety resolution. Although I hadn’t mentioned this decision to anyone, one of my Christmas presents was a gift certificate for 3 cases of my favorite bottled water. Instant manifestation!
My second resolution came to me later on Christmas Day as I was thinking about the dream from the night before. The Buzzcock’s “Why Can’t I Touch It” came on my iPod. I’ve always loved that song, especially the fabulous bass line, yet at that moment, the song seemed to mock me.
So often, my life feels exactly like those lyrics. I can easily live more inside my thoughts than in the actual world. And while I’m not yet crazy enough to think that Pete Shelley is singing directly to me, let’s face it, he kind of is without knowing it.
My resolution is a little abstract, but I’m going to ask “Why can’t I touch it?” defiantly in 2011 instead of philosophically as I usually would. It’s easy to get so caught up in everything I have to do, or everything I feel I can’t, that I lose touch with the fact that I’m mostly pretty lucky. I’ve seen Santa, dammit! This happened. How many people can say that?
So Resolution #2 (which sounds dirrrrty but isn’t): I am going to “touch it” in 2011. And I’m going to appreciate it, too. At least I hope I do. I suppose there’s always that date on the calendar to remind me to be thankful in case I forget.