I’m not sure why, but every December our personalities change. At least, they do in my house.
Eleven months out of the year I avoid the kitchen like the plague. I am allergic to housework. (A domestic diva, I am not!) And I Do. Not. Sing. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, as they say.
But when Christmas rolls around, you will find me in the kitchen, covered in flour, baking cookies and Nisü, (a Finnish coffee bread, sometimes called Pulla) and maybe even fudge! You will hear Burl Ives’ songs in the background, because I will have Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or The Little Drummer Boy playing on the TV. Yes, I’ve seen them before. I watch them every year! And I sing along with all the songs. Loudly.
You see, I love Christmas! I love the twinkling lights; I love our gigantic artificial tree, even though it takes a 12’ ladder and three people to put it up, and the lights never work right. I love putting the ornaments on, and remembering where or when we got each one, or who gave it to us (even the one from Lisa, one of my husband’s high school girlfriends, whom I did not like very much). I love shopping for all the presents, and I love the special foods we eat only once a year. I love setting up my porcelain Nativity scene with the king riding on a camel, and the donkey which is missing an ear because my kids were little once. I love going to church on Christmas Eve and tearfully singing Oh Holy Night by candlelight.
My husband David, the man I love and adore; the man I’ve been married to for more than eight years, loves to cook, and is the most giving man you will ever meet. That is, for eleven months out of the year.
During the twelfth month, my husband turns into a Grinch. He seems to hate Christmas. He doesn’t like any part of it. He hates the gift wrapping, the abundance of food, the glittering decorations; even the family gatherings. I think this is partly due to damage inflicted during his first marriage. He tells a story of being up on a ladder with the flu and a fever of 102°, putting lights on the second story eaves during an ice storm when the wind chill was 23 below zero; because his then-wife insisted the lights go up THAT DAY. I’m sure there is more to it than that, but something sure puts a damper on his attitude around Christmas.
So every December, I put up the tree and the lights, by myself or with the kids. I set up the Nativity scene by myself. I bake cookies and Nisü with the kids. I shop and wrap presents by myself. I watch Rudolph alone. And my hubby hides behind his laptop screen, or buries himself in a novel. If I ask what he wants for Christmas he always says, “Nothing.” And when I ask if he wants to help with any of the Christmas preparations, he just stares at me blankly. I figure having a husband who is near perfect in every other way and loves to cook during the rest of the year, is a reasonably fair trade, so I don’t force the issue. And to his credit, he always manages to sneak at least one perfect gift under the tree.
Christmas does funny things to people. It’s never perfect. It’s hardly ever what we expect. It can be messy and noisy and crowded and it can change our personalities for a month! But Christmas is always a reminder that God came to earth dressed as a baby and that is enough for me.