Today I went to a reading by poet Karen Solie. Well, sort of a reading. She talked about growing up in Saskatchewan and mentioned nostalgia. While she read a copule of her poems, she also read one about what she called the “quintessential nostalgic item: the Christmas tree.” This got me thinking about Christmas and nostalgia in general, things I’m missing and friends I’d like to see.
Last year for Christmas I was living in Seattle with my best friend Katie. We’d graduated college and were vaguely doing the adult life. I say vaguely. I couldn’t get enough time off from work so my family decided to fly from Orlando clear across the country to spend Christmas with me. And my kittens.
Both of my kittens liked to climb in the Christmas tree, but Ellabelle was particularly photogenic. She and Clementine were very good at tossing ornaments off the tree. I was just glad they never got electrocuted.
With Halloween, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the lights, the trees, the hokey music you can only listen to once a year (though check out Paul Simon’s new Christmas song–anything but hokey), the spontaneous happiness and the fact that my whole family lazes about the entire day, sleeping, eating and playing with our presents. It’s the one day a year where we not only manage to abstain from fighting–we actually enjoy spending the day together. Sometimes Parcheesi will break out and lots of hot chocolate and Oreo bundt cake is consumed. We smile, we thank each other and I can say at least on my part I’m happiest when I manage to get great presents for my other family members. They are surprisingly hard to shop for. But I try.
So though Karen Solie said Christmas is nostalgic, I don’t feel that way right now. I probably will on December 26th. But for now, I’m just looking forward to it. I’m listening to my Christmas 2011 playlist, getting jazzed to turn in final essays and fly home in twelve days to pry any of my family’s five cats out of the tree. (No matter how old they get, they still like to climb among the ornaments.) For now at least, Christmas is all about the future and the promise of awesomeness.
Something I am nostalgic about is Kenyon College. For one of the few times since I’ve graduated, I wanted to go back to Ohio today. St Andrews has a smattering of snow sprinkled on its streets, but usually at this time in Gambier the snow is at least above my ankles. Sometimes much more.
Something Kenyon and St Andrews both have in common–they put up Christmas lights for the month of December. Something they don’t have in common–in St Andrews they’re called Christmas lights and at Kenyon they’re called Suicide Lights. They’re twinkle lights strung around the trees of Middle Path and are (supposedly) to keep students happy with their beauty. Happy enough to survive the Ohio winter and not get too depressed by the gray skies and constant cold. Seeing as I’m missing it right now, I guess it works.
I haven’t seen any of my Kenyon friends for months now, and while I’m having a great time making new friends and loving my course here, I find myself missing college. I don’t want to go back and relive it all, but I think I might be ready to look forward to my five year reunion. Which will be in three and a half years. So I’ve got a while to wait.
For now, I will look forward to Christmas and dream of Ohio.
Who dreams of Ohio?