Gotham Note:
Christmas Now


It’s hard to believe that Christmas is right here! Not a few weeks away, but a few days away. I was hoping to write a few Christmas cards this evening — I have yet to write one — but I got no further on the Christmas front than hauling out the four boxes that hold all the miscellaneous Christmas stuff. Not the ornaments; they’re so special that Kathleen would store them in Fort Knox if she could. But, for example, the crèche that Fossil Darling’s late lamented mother bought for us in Spain, and the spinning top that I shove underneath the tree each year, as if there were an all-American, top-spinning boy in the vicinity.

The tree: ahem. It will be a small tree this year, just for Kathleen and me. We won’t be having the usual Christmas at-home this year, for perfectly nice reasons that I won’t go into. (Regular readers will fall into a catatonic state at this point: Not the Closets!) I can tell you that one of the reasons is my Better/Storage/Now! program of reassigning space in the apartment for this and that — and for giving away deze, dem, and doze other things that no longer fit in.

(I did do amazing things with the Spode platters yesterday, not to mention the new deep-fat fryer. Really, it’s almost as good as a new house!)

Christmas. When I think back on the Christmas-morning thrill of childhood, I don’t miss all the presents. I wish I could do the thrill justice. Crouching on the stairs when it was still too early to be out of bed, not wanting to make a sound but being too young to know what a “sound” might be. Looking at the tree from across the room, hardly daring to approach its nimbus of lights and tinsel, glowing in an empty room in what was still the night. Hoping that I’d find things I wanted and things I couldn’t imagine — which is why I don’t regret the naked lust for stuff. The fresh smack of fir tree scent lent an air of pious rectitude to what was in fact a craven longing for very material surprises. (A preview of coming attractions.)

Who knew what was under the tree? For four or five years, I didn’t. Then I wised up. As I say, I don’t miss the prospect of acquiring interesting new things at Christmas. But if I say that I don’t miss the thrill, that’s because I haven’t forgotten it.

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