I hear you, Charlie Brown. I have been there, man.
Charlie Brown: [Charlie Brown and Linus stop at a wall on their trip to the pond for ice skating] I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.
[begins to walk with Linus again]
Charlie Brown: I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.
Linus Van Pelt: Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy’s right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.
“The motherfucker just can’t catch a break,” my friend Hunter said, as we shared an amazing meal of gypsy stew and cornbread and watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the room illuminated by a string of large colored bulbs on the mantle and the glow of hundreds of white lights emanating from the Chrismukkah tree in the other room.
This is the happiness Charlie Brown was missing. The spirit of the season. Spending time with family and friends, cherishing simple delights, having a sense of hope. The twinkle of the lights, the sparkle, the holidazzle makes it pretty and special. It makes me happy. This is why I have a tree and all the decorations, along with a Hanukkiah (the Hanukkah menorah) on the mantle. And I am baking cookies and sending cards for the first time in years. Happiness. This is what I need. This is what Charlie Brown needs.
I have had a tradition of watching “When Harry Met Sally” while decorating the tree for more than 10 years. But this year, I didn’t want to. It didn’t feel right. The DVD and my computer were right there, yet I chose not to watch. My Holidazzle mix on Pandora was making me extra–super happy, and I simply followed my bliss.
Last year, well, the last many years of Chrismukkahs have sucked. Last December was my first birthday/Hanukkah/Christmas without my mom. The holidays — and birthday — without your mom really suck. I just associated too much badness with last December. Just sadness and depression. I liked the idea, but still ended up depressed — much like Charlie Brown.
Not this year. This is a new year, a new season. I had the best birthday (weekend!) ever in the history of ever. I have wonderful, amazing friends whom I love very much. And new friends. This was a fantastic year for meeting new friends — and reconnecting with old friends. For that, I am thankful.
And thankful that I was able to spend a lovely evening embracing the spirit of the season — and the Baby Jesus — with my friend Hunter and Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown: I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn’t have picked this little tree. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about.
[shouting in desperation]
Charlie Brown: Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?
Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
[moves toward the center of the stage]
Linus Van Pelt: Lights, please.
[a spotlight shines on Linus]
Linus Van Pelt: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”
[Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]
Linus Van Pelt: That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
That’s what it’s all about. Peace, love, joy, hope.
And friends. I didn’t even know this Hunter dude last year, but now he’s a friend with whom I’ve shared a fantastic holiday memory. A new tradition is born, perhaps. Making gypsy soup, decorating, and watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” sounds like fine tradition. (We watched “Jeopardy,” too, which is something I never do — I don’t think I’ve watched “Jeopardy” since that Mormon dude won all that cash — and, get this, one of the categories was Calendar Girls. How freaking random is that?)
We also checked out all of the Comcast On Demand holiday screensavers, including the Yule Log (with music), not to be confused with this really creepy Fireplace (no music) that screams “dead hooker” to me for some reason. We really liked Winter 1, which I like to call Snowy Brook. We added our own music and pretended it was cold and snowy outside. Delightful, really.
So, are you waiting for me to tell you about the gypsy stew? Well, what I make is a modified version of a Moosewood recipe for Gypsy Soup. I mean, I’m always modifying recipes. That’s how I learned to cook. You work with what you got, experiment, make it fit your palate. It’s more fun that way. I call my version a stew because it is really hearty; I add a lot more vegetables. I also really like the word stew (it also means “whorehouse” — tee hee!). I added different colored carrots (purple and gold!), a parsnip, a tiny rutabaga, a small gold beet, a sweet potato, green and red peppers, a leek and shallots. I also used a large can of whole tomatoes in puree and canned chickpeas, because that’s what I had on hand. I prefer Worcestshire sauce over tamari (wheat-free soy sauce), and I also added a bit of fresh nutmeg. It is delicious, and it filled the house with the most amazing, warm, comforting aroma. Good stuff.
The decking of halls continues, and I must make a wreath (I wish my Daniel was here to help me!), address the holiday bunny cards, and make a cookie list. And then tomorrow I will write a blog about my holiday OCBs (obsessive-compulsive behaviors). Good times.