How I Spent Christmas
For the past few weeks, I’ve done nothing I normally do around Christmas. I’m not eating candy anymore, so I didn’t buy copious amounts of Christmas candy under the guise that candy canes only come around once a year and therefore I need to consume as many as possible to hold me over until the next winter. I didn’t listen to one minute of Christmas music on the Christmas-all-the-time radio station (though couldn’t obviously avoid it in stores) because I spent most of the last few weeks feeling awfully Grinchy and growly about the holiday in general, and I thought I’d end up punching someone if I heard that Alvin and the Chipmunks song. So it seemed best not to risk it, and we listened to Green Day’s new trilogy instead.
Normally we watch two films the week of Christmas: About a Boy and Love, Actually. Josh enjoys the former and loathes the latter, but after losing my friend this week, About a Boy felt too on the nose. And subsequently, only watching Love, Actually would remind me of the fact that we weren’t watching the film that we both enjoy more. My friend suggested that we make it a very Star Wars Christmas, watching the three original films in an all-day cinematic orgy. While that sounded fabulous, the truth is that we volunteer on Christmas Day knocking out several hours, and we hadn’t started early enough to make it through all three films in pieces over several nights. Plus, they’ve seen Star Wars numerous times.
So we asked them if they wanted to start the Lord of the Ring trilogy.
We’ve been holding onto the Ring Trilogy because it was so important to me that the twins like it. They don’t need to love it as much as I do, but I wanted them to enjoy reading the books and watching the films, and I had an idea that in a few years, we’d return to Oxford and do a Tolkien/CS Lewis trip through the city (as opposed to our Alice one). Show it to them too early and the Orcs would freak the fuck out of them, ensuring immediate rejection. Show it to them too late and they may be too jaded for a fantasy world.
So we started the first film, telling them we could stop it at any point if they got scared, but first showing them that Lúrtz is just a guy named Lawrence Makoare wearing a ton of make-up. Who goes home after a day of shooting to his five kids. And that seemed to get them through any scene with the Orcs (though they needed to repeat aloud every time, “those are just people in ugly costumes that have been covered in mucous.”) though the Wolvog needed to hang out in his room for the scene with the troll.
They — thankfully — loved it and wanted to discuss the whole world and immediately move on to the Two Towers after the first film ended. It was such a huge moment of relief: both that we will all share Tolkien and that we did something that made the day special for them. Because it’s tightrope walking to make the day feel special for a Jewish kid. They are the only ones in their circle of friends not celebrating the holiday, and for weeks they’ve had to endure people reciting their Christmas traditions and gift guessing and cooking crooning. But the twins felt like they had a special Christmas Eve and a movie to look forward to after they volunteered today. We may even rename the day Hobbit Eve in the future and do Tolkien things every winter.
And yes, we will bring in vegan Chinese food tonight to take part in that cliche.
So that is how we spent our Christmas. How did you spend yours? Any favourite traditions? New ones started this year? Fabulous gifts you gave or received? I like living vicariously through other people’s Christmases now that I’m feeling less Grinchy.