Pride and Fear on Christmas Eve
So this afternoon my mother asked me to go out and pick up a couple items at Extra Foods, because she and my dad were busy still preparing things for tonight, when our family celebration begins. We needed more egg nog (because I had drunk up the rest after lunch with some Baccardi, but it was after noon so it was ok to start), a can of plum tomatoes, and 2L of mineral water. So I ventured out into the snowblinding streets to collect the items and bring them back. Unfortunately the few minutes I had to spend at Extra Foods was really depressing. Instead of the classical Christmas choral music that was playing at our house, I was forced to endure the tinned sound of obnoxious pop holiday crooning. Strike one. Secondly, the mindless suburbanites were out and about collecting their last minute items that are integral to their Christmas celebrations. Important things like 8 2L Pepsis, nachos and tacky magazines and tabloids. The sight of these people horribly frightened me. I never ever want to become some tacky suburbanite, taking my only joy in a cheap domestic beer and football on a Sunday afternoon, or valuing my worth entirely on how nice my car is compared with my neighbors while I raise spoiled selfish brats who are likely smoking meth in Ernest Lindner park. It was a horrifying mix of fear of what one can become, and pride in one's own way of life. I quickly bought the items and hurried home to my family.
As much as I sometimes complain about my family, I really do love them and enjoy the traditions that we have built up. Our keeping of Christmas is a mix of things, my Swedish and German heritage, our love of literature and film, our religious experience, etc. Tonight we begin by going to a Christmas Eve service, then we come home to a Scandinavian-flavoured meal involving flatbread, potatoes, pickled herring, and such, similar to the ones my grandmother in Edmonton would make for the family there before Christmas Eve services. You have to remember that me and Anton love movies, so we've incorporated the viewing of film into our Christmas traditions. After the meal, and a few cups of coffee, we retire to the family room to watch the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring the incomparable Alastair Sim. To me, he is the quintessential Scrooge. After that, we generally open one of our gifts, in keeping with my dad's Swedish roots, and then retire to bed "while visions of sugar plums dance in our heads." Well, actually, not really. I'm not even sure what a "sugar plum" is, but either way, it's a good night and one that I look forward to all year. It gives me pride in my family, and pride in who I am, and despite my rantings earlier, I really think Christmas does give me a feeling of what humanity is capable of at least once a year.