Skip to main content

A Long Way Of Saying Merry Christmas!

Miso, our much-loved lovebird, photographed by Alexander Chow-Stuart.
This is just one of the most fabulous nights of the year....The Night Before Christmas. I still love everything about it...the lights on the tree, maybe the occasional lovebird named Miso on the tree (photographing him sitting there is now an anual tradition), the baking smells from the kitchen, the sense that somewhere outside in the mysterious darkness, even in California (and certainly around Wall Street domiciles or in DC), there's still a Victorian street where Ebenezer Scrooge is about to clutch his door handle and see the ghostly face of his late business partner, Jacob Marley...

...But also the stockings hung by the fire, the sense of magic in the air, the images of snowy rooftops and white-clad gardens, even if the weather hasn't cooperated...the original Charlie Brown Christmas Special playing in the DVD player (with that fabulous Vince Guaraldi score)...and those endless songs on the Christmas channels: White Christmas, Santa Baby, Jingle Bells, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Little Saint Nick...and the true greats: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's So This Is Christmas (War Is Over), Greg Lake's I Believe In Father Christmas, Straight No Chaser's The Carol Of The Bells, the classic traditional Carols themselves...

I know that some people hate Christmas, or distrust it, think it's overcommercialized, a time of phony emotion and excessive eating, spending and consumption - but I still see Christmas as I did when I was five or six years old. It matters to me hugely, even though I'm a Buddhist and the religious aspects have faded from my thinking (the Nativity is still a really charming tale but I think more of the pagan evergreen tree in winter: the symbol of rebirth).

I want our children to enjoy Christmas and we spend the whole of December anticipating it, opening an old wooden Advent Calendar door each day to see what Elgouin and Cargouin, our two little Christmas Elves may have left during the night (usually a chocolate coin each for Hudson and Paradise) and thinking and talking about how Christmas Day might be.

Obviously there's an element for Paradise and Hudson of it being about the gifts, but it's far more about letter-writing, back and forth, to the Elves, to Santa, to various other characters - and the building excitement as December passes (not to mention the single-day month that Hudson created between November and December - Devember - which is the true start of our family's holiday season).

I can't imagine my love of Christmas ever diminishing, and I hope that Hudson and Paradise - and Charong, who didn't really grow up with a Christmas tradition in her childhood Chinese-American household - maintain their enthusiasm, too.

Christmas to me is a little like Groundhog Day is to Bill Murray's character: an event that, in theory, you could grow to hate, and yet one that, through endless repetition and the expunging of any negative possibilities, acquires the authenticity and power of true love.

These are a lot of words - and I'm still a little hazy with the medication for my broken rib - but I think all I really wanted to say is that Christmas *is* love: it's beautiful, it's magical, it's perfect and I hope you all share in that love and joy and perfection.

We have made a lot of new friends this year in Tuolumne County, which has been remarkably welcoming to our whole family - so to our new friends and our old friends alike, here's wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and a truly Wonderful New Year.

Enjoy tonight and tomorrow...and may Santa leave sooty footprints by your sparkling, multi-colored tree. That squawking you hear is Miso complaining that someone knitted him the wrong-colored scarf!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The High Tower Apartments and The Long Goodbye

Photograph by Dwayne Moser. This beautiful apartment complex in Los Angeles is called the Hightower or High Tower Complex (the High Tower name refers to the central elevator, I believe), and was designed in 1935-1936 by architect  Carl Kay - and made famous in 1973 by my favorite film, Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (see Why I Love Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye ). Although Altman used the building as Philip Marlowe's apartment in his somewhat post-modern Long Goodbye (the film plays with references to Old Hollywood and opens and closes with the song, Hooray For Hollywood ), the building has another direct connection to Raymond Chandler. It was apparently the inspiration for Chandler in his book, The High Window (the first Chandler novel I ever read), in which Chandler describes the residence of Philip Marlowe as being on the cliffs above High Tower Drive in a building with a fancy elevator tower. (Thanks to the Society of Architectural Historians Southern

Andrew Hale and Sade

Sade in concert in San Jose. All concert photos  Copyright  © 2011  Alexander Chow-Stuart. On Thursday evening, we saw our longtime friend Andrew Hale perform with Sade at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, in one of the most beautifully conceived and produced concert performances I have ever seen. Sade is a rare musician, in that she and the band only write, record and tour every eight to ten years, so that in a very real sense you can measure your life by her. The band's music is always fresh and always newly conceived - for their previous album, Lovers Rock , they stripped everything down musically to a minimalist sound and banished the saxophone that had been so much a part of Sade's heavily soul- and jazz-influenced style. The latest album, Soldier of Love , released in 2010, is one of the most tender, moving collections of songs yet, from the astonishingly beautiful Morning Bird , which features exquisite keyboards from Andrew, to the soulful, retro, return-

A favorite place for peace and reflection

Lyons Lake dam a couple of days back. One of our family's favorite places. (Photo: Alexander Chow-Stuart)