The Seven Meme: a yuletide rendering
[one] Being the oldest of five, closely-spaced children, Christmas was a blast when I was young. The day was replete with toys, games and chocolate, and we played together with renewed enthusiasm. Once we passed firmly into the more solitary pleasures of clothes, books, jewelry, and music, I yearned for the communal frenzy of earlier years.
[two] During an early morning Christmas service in my teenage years, I was surprised by the complete lack of music. Just after communion, I walked back to the sacristy and asked our monsignor if I could lead a recessional hymn. I sang Joy to the World, appealing in its theme and simple musical structure. After Mass, I got a nasty look from an older couple who clearly misunderstood the terms of the situation.
[three] In college, I spent one Christmas Eve working a small catering job. The money was good and the event generously staffed, particularly because the woman in charge was somewhat notorious for hitting the sauce. My colleagues for the evening included my father and two brothers, so I still shared the evening with family.
[four] My first Christmas in graduate school, I was disinclined to return to Philadelphia for the holidays, as I had driven from there to Pasadena just a few months before. Instead, I enjoyed Christmas with good friends in Tuscon. Most animal fur makes me wheeze, so I slept outside and checked my shoes for scorpions in the morning. During the Christmas Eve service, the minister chastised those who only appeared in church on holidays. That night, I decided to go cold turkey on formal Christianity.
[five] Two years later, the temporal and financial pressures of graduate school again kept me west of the Rockies. My friend Erich and I camped in Joshua Tree National Park, and Christmas Eve dinner was made over a camp stove and under the glorious night sky, remarkable in its complexity due to the cloudless desert and absence of city light.
[six] In the two years that followed, I met and shacked up with my soul mate. That second Christmas, we spent the holidays with his extended family in Centralia, Washington. My honey - an ambitious astronomer - had secured observing time at Palomar right after Christmas. We hit the road early Christmas morning to begin the 1100 mile trek back to southern California. We enjoyed Christmas lunch at a Chinese restaurant somewhere near the Washington-Oregon border, quite naturally the most appealing place that was open.
[seven] A few years ago, we invited a Japanese colleague and her friend for Christmas dinner. I was surprised to discover how much sharing Christmas with someone from a distinctly different culture would change the experience. After dinner, I drove our guests back to their homes. Just after I passed the Cambridge Common, and saw a homeless guy with a sign. I rolled down my window and handed him ten bucks. I tell you, they see me coming.
Peace, joy, and light to you all, including the woman who tagged me.