My recent schedule (Nanowrimo, followed closely by my grad school residency) means that Christmas has completely snuck up on me. The Pirate and I went crazy sending out our Christmas cards right before I left for LA, we collaborated on Christmas shopping via email (this is made possible by the fact that I’m the sort of person who is perpetually buying cool stuff and putting it up in the closet “for a future gift-giving occasion”) and now we’re completing the last of our Christmas traditions: eating yummy food while watching noir movies.
It started before I even met the Pirate, and every year I would spend an entire day in the kitchen baking for the holidays. I would make eleventeen dozen batches of cookies, pies, breads – all while watching my favorite old movies. I could watch The Big Sleep or Sunset Boulevard or The Maltese Falcon over and over and over (and I have). Those two activities – food and noir movies – both became linked in my mind to Christmas, always culminating with my absolute favorite, Double Indemnity. To a kid who grew up thinking of Fred MacMurray as the benign, pipe-smoking dad on “My Three Sons,” seeing him as the sexy (at least, he seemed to think he was sexy), wisecracking, matchstick popping insurance salesman Walter Neff opened my eyes to a lot of things. It’s like watching a home movie of your parents on a date. And then killing someone. Or something. Not that I’ve ever done that.
There was a great xkcd cartoon about the most-played Christmas songs that says that what Americans try to do at Christmas is to re-create the Christmases of the baby boomers. I think that here at the Co-Prosperity Sphere, we’ve done a good job of establishing our own traditions that look nothing like what either of us did as kids. Tonight, we went out for Christmas Eve at the Pirate’s parents’ house, and now we’re back home where we’re going to snuggle up with some Indian food, some baked treats, and some amazing black and white movies.
I hope that the twelve of you who are going to read this have some things that you do every year because they’re things that consistently make you happy, whether they involve giving or receiving gifts, lighting something on fire, decorating some stuff, watching a favorite movie and/or listening to or making music. Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, I hope that it brings joy to your heart, and it makes you feel closer to not just your family, but everyone else in the world. In the Buddhist tradition of lovingkindness, let those things that gladden you make you think charitably about your loved ones, those near you, and even those people whom you may not understand or like.
I’ll be thinking nice things about you.