Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, My Brother

Commenter "Deb from Madison" mentioned Christmas wreaths made from computer punch cards, and Christmas trees made from Reader's Digests and gold spray paint, and I about wept. Talk about a shared experience. A Scandinavian was as rare as a sober Kennedy where I'm from, so they'll be no Euchre. Italians play Whist, thank you. But it's just the same, otherwise.

There's a sort of self-examination rampant in modern life that is corroding shared experience. Nothing is done unless it's filmed, dissected, and critiqued. We used to just do stuff, and not worry too much about the deeper meaning of it. The deeper meaning was reserved for the impetus of the holiday. Now they'd write ten thousand column inches, footnoted, about the deeper meaning of using computer punch cards to make a Christmas wreath.

Let me shorten it up for the poindexters: We were poor. Christmas was important. We celebrated it as best we could with the materials at hand. And Deb and I, and I'm sure many others, remember that fondly.

I miss my older brother. He lives in California, and likes it. I miss him especially at Christmas. My brother is a fair sum older than I, would come home from collegefor Christmas and sleep until noon every day, and make icosahedron ornaments out of my construction paper. We'd plead with him to take out his guitar, and marvel at the music being conjured out of the dead splits of mahogany and sitka spruce. There was no video cameras then for us, or YouTube, of course. He could probably cook it up fresh for you to this day, but the recipe and the chef is 2500 miles away from me today. I found this fellow on the Tube, and it'll have to do:

That's very European, that music. It says snowflakes and sleighs and so forth. Let's go south for the finish, and let a culture whose simple piety and joyous attitude toward a holiday makes Santa come right out of the desert, too. My brother lives hard by that desert. Here's hoping Santa comes out of it for you too, my brother.

Feliz Navidad to all, and to all a good night.


Anonymous said...

Two gifts for you:

Here's your wreath:

And your Christmas tree with directions!:

Now, I'm off to the kitchen to deal with the cardamom rolls which are very Scandinavian.

The rest of the food is loaded with dairy products: cream cheese, cheese, heavy cream, and sour cream. I wonder if this is just a Wisconsin phenomenon or does everyone cook like that for Christmas?

And again, a very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

-Deb in Madison

PS. Whist? I think even the Italians here play Euchre!

Internet Ronin said...

I remember RD Christmas trees well, from the days a single issue was large enough to the job. Reminds me of the year we made them as part of a cub scout project, to be placed in the center of a wreath made from factory yarn spools.

The den mother had a relative in the apparel business, and they sent her dozens of the conical spools, about 6" long. We cut out cardboard rounds about 18" in diameter, attached the spools to the cardboard with clothes pins, inserted green & red tree ornaments into each spool, and placed the tree in the middle.

Everything except the ornaments needed to be sprayed gold first, and we had great fun attempting to do that when not busy spraying each other. Then we got to put it all together and present it to our mothers as a surprise on Christmas Day. I think it was the first real Christmas present of my own that I ever gave someone.

My mom still has the wreath (she has had to touch it up a few times) although the tree is long-gone and replaced by a candle and fresh greenery. As I was writing this, a genuinely fond remembrance, I suddenly realized that this year is the first in 44 years that it is not displayed on her living room coffee table.

Merry Christmas. Hug your children. Thanks for the memories, once again.