I love Christmas. Let’s get that out in the open right from the get-go.
Now, to be clear, I am a militant adversary of pre-Thanksgiving Christmas anything–a stance I will defend ad nauseam on the grounds of over inundation makes the season less magical and special. (I live in the north. How on earth can you get excited about Christmas trees when you’re still running your air conditioner?) But, let me tell you. The minute the clock tolls midnight, ushering in the Day After Thanksgiving, I am on the ready for a month-long bacchanalia of Glad Tidings of Great Joy.
I am also a fan of old-fashioned Christmas. I know it’s not the in-thing right now, but I don’t care. I lived in a place that didn’t celebrate Christmas for four years, and so darn it, I’m going to make up for lost time. I believe in Red and Green, big evergreens covered in lights, manger scenes, and wishing a “Merry Christmas” to basically anything that moves that last week leading up to the twenty-fifth. So when the beginning of Apple’s holiday ad popped onto the screen the day after Thanksgiving, I was underwhelmed by the sight of Frankenstein. This is not Halloween. We did that already. I know. I dressed up as Mrs. White from Clue in honor of the occasion. Get on the train, already, Apple.
The last thing I expected was to be sitting on the sofa, frantically blinking away tears like a soppy mess two minutes later. And what’s worse, it happens every single time I see that commercial. It’s terrible. I think I’d gone all weepy at it three or four times before I could see clearly enough through the tears to realize that Frankenstein is crying at the end of the commercial, too. Yup. Me and Frankenstein, going all watery over people singing There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays (a song I don’t even like) and his red and green, Christmas light antennae. (Incidentally, if you haven’t seen this commercial, you should definitely watch it now.)
I’m not a crier as a rule, so this has really been bothering me. Especially since I’ve told other people (not about the every, single time, thing, but about generally being a bit misty..) and apparently, I’m the only one. So I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m such a wreck about a stupid commercial, and I think I’ve finally figured it out.
No, I spend my Christmas seasons decorating my house and then setting a timer so that I can come home to lights. I watch Christmas movies alone while drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows. I drive around and look at Christmas lights on my way home from work. My house isn’t shiny, beautiful, magazine-glossy Christmas. My decorations are a hodge-podge of vintage paraphernalia collected from secondhand stores and charity shops and homemade ornaments and decorations I’ve made. I believe my tree is the prettiest tree in the whole city–and I spend the month of December with my house in a state of semi-darkness just so I can admire how pretty it is all the time.
I love the ornaments I hang on my tree–little memories from a decade of my life, testaments that I was here, even though the people with whom I’ve shared it are scattered to the four winds.
I love my Christmas. It isn’t something out of a Hallmark movie, and no one will put it on the magazine, but it is beautiful to me. And I think, ultimately, that is why I resonate so strongly with the monster in that Apple ad. I am the piece that doesn’t fit. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have friends and family that love me. I know that. But I am also in my thirties, but I don’t have children to make cookies with, or a husband to cuddle up with in front of a fire, or even a significant other to kiss under mistletoe or drag to the obligatory work Christmas party against his will.
I feel like, most of the time, I am like Frankenstein. Staggering into a town full of people with the “right” life–with the kids and nice houses and Santas and Christmas lights, holding my little, tattered box of Christmas traditions, homemade and makeshirt, things I have worked so hard to build and keep safe–traditions that are special and beautiful to me. Like Frankenstein, I feel compelled to try to be part of the people around me. And I am afraid that I will open up the special box of my traditions that I have worked so hard to make special, and, like Frankenstein, be met with only silence. I am so afraid that people will not see the beauty in the ceramic light-up tree that reminds me of my grandma, or the ornaments that remind me of China.
And that’s why I cry at the end of the commercial. In my life, all of the people I know with the “right kind of Christmas” thoughtfully recognize that I’m part of their lives and don’t want to neglect me. So they invite me over for their traditions and food and holiday cheer. But (generally) everyone is always too busy when I want to share my traditions with them. I desperately long for people to love my Christmas as much as I do. I long to have people sing along with my Christmas song. I, like everyone else, want to belong. But when you’re standing next to the village tree with your little raggedy box
, that’s scary.
So look out for the Frankensteins in your life. Don’t just try to make them part of your traditions. Let yourself be made part of theirs. We might share a memory with you that will create a little magic for everyone. Franky and I will thank you.