Monday, December 31, 2007

The Magic of Giving

Remember when Christmas was that time of the year that couldn't come fast enough?

As soon as December 1st arrived and our first chocolate in our advent eaten, we were rosy cheeked angels on our best behavior lest our mother get on the phone with Santa (or was it just my mother who apparently had him on speed dial?).  Christmas Eve was TORTURE.  The gifts all shiny and wrapped under the glittery tree taunting us with their mystery.  Was it that new doll we had seen in the frosty window at the Bay?  Or our favorite Disney movie?  Or, in the year I was ten, a nintendo (old school) complete with Mario Brothers One, Two and Three?  
I could never fall asleep for excitement.  Especially because in my household stockings were placed at the foot of our beds so that I would wake up in the middle of the night and open it.  I actually still get just as excited for stockings!

Now days that burning excitement and thrill is barely a flutter in my tummy.  I must admit that I miss those days a wee bit - the only thing comparable in my adulthood has been the night before a big trip.  My grandmother was amazing at keeping the magic in Christmas alive until her dying day.  So I'm trying.  And I have found that there is a new sort of magic in Christmas as we get older:  the magic of giving.

As cheesy as that sounds, the 'magic of giving' has become almost, okay - as good as if not better - than getting.  This year I was a terrible gift giver.  I was terrible because I had no patience to wait until the big day.  My gifts were FANTASTIC!  They sat under my candy-like tree (it was covered in pretty pink and blue balls, snowmen on cupcakes, and ju-jube spinwheels topped with a star-shaped sugar cookie.  So cute!) taunting me as if they were my nine-year-old own.  I gave my parents gifts leading up to Christmas Eve, I gave the Engineer his big one on Christmas Eve Eve, and I made my girlfriend open her harmonica kit a week early.  In fact, I gave away so many gifts that there was almost nothing left for Christmas morning.  Oooops.

The days of not pouting or crying in case Santa might see,  butterfly filled sleep, and dreamy wishing while gazing at our presents are over for me.  But they have been replaced my finding joy in watching my mum's eyes fill with tears with her gift, or the Engineer actually showing excitement over his Disneyland pass.  And discovering a perfect present for the impossible father:  wine, wine and more wine.  It really is quite magical.

And that, my friends, is the nouveau magic of Christmas.  Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2007

How a Virgo Decorates for Christmas

I love the Christmas season with its’ sparkling lights, tree trimming, and wrapping of gifts. I just don’t love getting ‘help from other people – which clearly is not in the spirit of Christmas. It is technically a time for those you love to gather with glasses of wine and help you hang ornaments on your incredibly beautiful, lusciously green and robustly full Christmas tree. But screw that.
I am a Virgo, which makes me a slight perfectionist if being perfect means everything needs to be done according to Stella. I decided to get a real tree this year – and it is so incredibly beautiful. And incredibly against all Virgo rules. The things drops more pines that a Northern Boreal forest. What was I thinking? I can’t vacuum fast enough! I shleped it all the way from Ikea (which by-the-by has the best deal in town. $20 gets you a gorgeous tree, with that money going to Tree Canada AND you get a $20 coupon for Ikea! Hello! Other places are charging $60 for trees that would win Charlie Brown’s heart). Anyhoo, I stuffed the thing in my trunk (Volkswagens rule) and got it to my apartment ALL BY MYSELF. At this point I needed reinforcements in the forms of the Engineer, my girlfriend and her boyfriend who is also an engineer and best friends with my Engineer. Very cozy all around.
They were lovely and helpful, getting the tree up and trimmed so it stood just right. The boys had hockey so they left us girls to it – decorating my tree and drinking mulled wine. I thought this idea was great until she tried to wrap my lights around the tree – just wrap all helter skelter! The Engineer had done this to my mini-tree earlier (yes, I have two trees), which was appalling. Who are these people? You don’t just wrap your lights willy nilly – you have to place them in the branches so that they glitter like the fairies they are supposed to be. I don’t want to see the freaking cord??!!
And then – horror of all horrors – my friend started to hang decorations WHERVER. Just wherever??!!! GAH! No no no, you have to think about colour and size. You have to take into consideration what the ornament means to me, where I got it, and who from. Obviously the angel that I got in NYC has to have precedent on the higher branches. The bright green ball goes on the back of the tree – to balance out the balls but the colour is quite awful.
So I had to stop the madness by suggesting we wrap presents instead. Actually, she insisted on helping me with this too. I love wrapping presents. I love the precision of matching up the paper, the careful tape placing so the paper never moves, and the tightness of having a well-wrapped gift. None of that loose crap that men are really good at. And to my horror, my friend did just that! Double GAH! So I put her on bow duty, which to my relief she was amazing at.
Tthe moral of my story? If you are a Virgo and want to decorate for Christmas: don’t invite others over to help (except for putting the tree in the stand). Put on lovely Christmas carols, pour yourself some eggnog and go about making sure each detail is perfect to your own satisfaction. This is quite possibly the most rewarding way to decorate Christmas, alone alone alone.