Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas and Escape

Big news! We refinanced today. G-Dog and I bought this house five years ago, and got a 30-year mortgage at 7.5% to pay for it.

Now it's a 15-year loan at 3.5%. Score. So that means our retirement has been set for a target of January, 2027. (Yeah, I know... in my case, that gives me 15 years to come up with something to retire from. ;-)

I also read this article today after a friend posted a link to facebook: "Christmas, Over Our Dead Bodies." The whole thing is a cool story, but I really savored this passage:
In more recent years, my husband — a child of divorced parents who amazingly hates Christmas even more than we do — and I have thrown Un-Christmas parties, inviting everyone who had nothing fun to do or wanted to escape their own families on Dec. 25 to eat boeuf bourguignon and macaroni and cheese. We had at least one bottle of wine per person. Lately, he has been lobbying for Christmas in Montauk, at a hotel by the beach, where we can stare out at the cold ocean and pretend we’re the only people on earth.
Now, I wouldn't say that I actually hate Christmas. I just feel sort of meh about it. There's as much ickiness about it as there is good stuff.

I loved Christmas as a kid, and give my parents a lot of credit for making it so magical for me and my siblings. We got a huge fresh tree, decorated, baked and frosted and sprinkled treats, went caroling through the neighborhood, attended many enchanting church services, sang in the choir, bought gifts for less fortunate kids, attended parties, played in the snow, spent time with our phenomenal grandparents, hung our stockings (which always ended up weighted down with a big orange in the toe and lots of candy), and there were oh, so many presents.

When Emmie was little, I did my best to perpetuate the magic, and that kept the wind in my sails for a while. But eventually, she grew up and wanted to opt out of some of the silliness of the season. And it was then that I realized that there's not much about Christmas that I'm all that attached to (I do like a lot of the music, the fragrances and -- of course! -- the food), and a lot that annoys me (the gratuitous consumption, the crowds, the noise, the waste, and the ridiculous War on Xmas bullshit).

Anyway, now there are two ideas mixing in my mind: retirement and opting out of the Silly Season. The suggestion of "Christmas in Montauk, at a hotel by the beach, where we can stare out at the cold ocean and pretend we’re the only people on earth" really thrills me. It's a wonderful picture.

I hope I don't have to wait fifteen years to give it a try. I still like the magic of Christmas enough so that I don't want to disappoint those who need me to participate in the holiday madness. So, I do my best, and I really do find plenty to enjoy in the process. But I also look forward to the time when it might be possible to slip away as the year winds down and the insanity ramps up. I'd like to think that it would be a more spiritual experience than the modern American Christmas -- filled with opportunities to glory in the beauty of creation, while spending real quality time with loved ones.

But in the meantime, just to demonstrate that I'm not bah-humbug-ing my way through the holidays, here's a lovely shot of Nonnie (in her warm, winter coat!), standing over our modest (and many, many years recycled!) pine cone xmas tree, in our awesome (and now slightly more our) house.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And a happy (belated) Solstice, 3rd day of Chanukah, Festivus eve, and almost coming up on Kwanzaa!

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