Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ramblings from a Winter Wonderland

As much as I love my city, Portland is one odd duck of a town when it comes to snow. A few little white flakes, and news crews are on location with advice on everything from navigating slushy sidewalks to how many days worth of groceries to hoard for the oncoming blizzard that could result in a 1-2" accumulation of snow. In our defense, we're just not used to the kind of winter weather that hits cooler climes. It's part of why we get so excited any time the snow begins to fall. No matter how old you are, there is something magical in the first few flakes of snow. I think it must hearken back to childhood and the possibility of the most hallowed winter day of youth (except for Christmas) - the snow day.

So, yesterday morning when it did start to snow, I secretly got a little excited too, even though I am too cool to admit it and also knew it was way too warm to stick. Somehow it made it feel like the holidays. So, I took advantage of the good cheer by doing some Christmas shopping with my mom. We bought gifts for each other, for friends and I found two adorable little cat tents for $6.95 at Ikea. The cats, of course, already have them.

I'm not sure what causes it, but on years when we exchange gifts (we don't always, some years we just donate to charity) I am genetically incapable of keeping a gift for a family member secret (or in my possession) until the holiday, if I buy it too early. I blame it on my mother. If it weren't for her whole hearted agreement in years when we opt not to buy presents, I'd think it was all part of her master scheme to program me to buy her more gifts. When I was a kid, we opened presents on the 24th, because that is the German way. Eventually, she and I started sneaking around, opening one gift even earlier. Now that my dad is gone, we have no self-control whatsoever when it comes to keeping gift-oriented secrets. I can't tell you how many times I've proactively bought an early Christmas or birthday present for her, gotten impatient waiting for the holiday to come, then caved and given to it to her early, forcing me to go out and buy a new present, so she'd at least have some suprise on the actual day. In the end, we have so much fun together that I don't think it really matters when or even if we exchange gifts.

Anyway, this is a year where we have decided to make presents part of our family celebration. I think it will be a nice holiday. I know someone who feels that the holidays will be ruined (seriously!) if Gene Autry's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is not the first Christmas song she hears. She gets mad at me when I tell her that she needs a real problem, if she's going to let something like that ruin her life. As for me, right now (in great contrast to this time last year when I would have been quite happy not only to disregard the holidays all together, but buy them a one-way bus ticket to Saskatchewan and tell them never to come back) I can't think of anything that could ruin them as long as I get to spend them with people I love. In the end, that is really what is important.

P.s. The first Christmas song I heard was Cartman singing O Holy Night and it makes me laugh every time. I'm not one to mix my animated characters, but if laughter is a sign for the coming holidays, then everything is indeed comin' up Millhouse.

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