Sunday night we saw a production of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
In our basement.
The big girls and their friend put together an elaborate play with costumes and music and several very long intermissions. Their interpretation was unique to say the least.
Mary Scrooge was a modern woman who, according to the Ghost of Christmas Past, proposed to her boyfriend at Christmas. He promptly turned her down because she “just wasn’t into Christmas, which is, like, his favourite time of year… so it just would, like, never work.” Jerk! Kind of seems like she dodged a bullet there, but maybe that’s just me.
The Ghost of Christmas Present said, “S’up, yo?” then brought her to Tiny Tim, who was repeatedly dumped on his head. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t scripted, but it did increase the pathos (and fill me with gratitude that they had cast a Cabbage Patch doll instead of little brother for the role).
The Ghost of Christmas Future was appropriately creepy in one of our camping ponchos. The gravedigger, played by a snarky cowgirl, assured Mary that this would be her fate if she didn’t learn to love Christmas.
In the final scene, Scrooge celebrates her new favourite holiday (under threat of death) by running around town in a Hawaiian dress buying cheese for all the children. This is either a nod to Muppets Christmas Carol or a reflection of my eldest’s dearly held belief that cheese is the best food in the world (the stinkier the better).
The truth is, much like Mary, I’ve been dreading this whole season. The work. The decorating. The expense. The pine needles tracked through every nook and cranny of the house. The shopping and worrying and lists and trying to get everything right. I’ve been sick for a long time and now that I’m feeling better, this is a giant obligation hanging over my head.
But I’m the Mom. So my feelings from one moment to the next are rarely the priority. Which is why I decided to bite the bullet. I pulled the Christmas boxes out of storage and determined to unpack the bare minimum. The girls pulled out the rest and put most of it in their own room. At least now I can stop stressing about it.
It wasn’t that big of a deal. Not nearly as bad as I had built up in my head. In fact, it was fun to see how excited all the kids were. They have enough joy and anticipation and excitement to offset Mom and Dad’s general weariness.
I had to laugh at the subtext of their festive play. Not liking Christmas is the ultimate sin. Sure, Scrooge was rude and mean and greedy, but none of that was as unacceptable as being a Holiday Humbug. This is the moral of the tale as seen through preteen eyes. Also the Grinch, Shrek the Halls and countless sappy Hallmark specials.
Why is this a sin? Why do we feel this pressure? I have certainly felt guilty about my lack of “spirit” this year. I’m usually one of those Christmas-y folks that loves every minute.
Many of us take the opportunity in December to celebrate Jesus Christ. For us, the elaborate rituals of the season are all part of that, which makes it meaningful. But we don’t need Christmas to celebrate Jesus. He didn’t celebrate it himself, now that I think of it.
It is also a time to celebrate family and generosity and eating delicious food. For most of us. For some, Christmas comes with a lot of posing and pretending and pain. It’s consumerism at its worst. Greed. Loneliness. Impossible expectations.
So maybe that’s why the Grinch Hated Christmas. And maybe it’s none of our business that he did. It’s not a sin, after all.
Christmas is what you make of it. For some that means Martha Stewart meets Jimmy Stewart meets Angels Singing on High. For others, less is more. Who’s to say which is a better way? It comes down to personality, priorities and beliefs. So, let’s cut each other, and ourselves, some slack. Everyone should do as much or as little as they enjoy.
As for me and my house, we’ll find our Christmas spirit, just like we always do. And I’m not going to worry if we don’t.
After the show we all danced like maniacs to “All I Want For Christmas is You.” Pretty appropriate considering the one thing I’m totally excited about is sharing Christmas with our boy. Everything else is optional.
And for a moment, while L was showing her Dad how to do the moonwalk the “right” way, B was practicing her disco moves and the boy was doing an impressive running man, I felt like Christmas may be a pretty good idea after all.
So here’s me, a little less Grinch today than yesterday. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.