Christmas trees, Christmas trains, Christmas antlers

The new house has enough room for a proper, tree-sized tree, and the three had enough room for three long strands of colored lights, and so I did something I hadn’t for maybe twenty years: I put the lights on the tree, turned out every other light in the house, including the stove light, nightlights, and everything else, and basked in the rosy, diffuse, multicolored light. It was almost as good as I remembered, though the new pink lights included on colored strands are jarring. I think that we might become a White-Light-Only family next year, though I have no intention of switching to pinecone-only wreaths and other trappings of yuletide austerity.

There’s a Secret Santa program at work; kids from inner-city PS 111 turned in letters asking for (with astonishing uniformity) Xbox units, Gameboy Advance units, and a short list of GBA games. I had to compose and distribute a company-wide email explaining what the kids meant by asking for “leaf green.” Colleagues expressed concern: “should we really be getting these kids video games for Christmas? Aren’t they awfully violent?” and I tried to advocate for the kids: “Game Boys are great! Training and trading Pokemon are training these kids to take part in the new information economy!”

But then I choked when I did my own shopping, and I bought my kid — young 9-year-old Yusuf — a copy of the Smithsonian Children’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of American History, and a starter Lego set that allows kids to build cool geared machines. It’s not a terrible present, though probably not what Yusuf was hoping for. I’m kind of surprised at myself for getting such a… teacher-ly present. I hope Yusuf understands, and that the encyclopedia actually comes in handy. Hell, at the very least, he can use it as a level surface for arranging GameBoy cartridges.

We also visited the Christmas display at the Brandywine River Museum over the weekend, and we got to see the train exhibit — a darkened room with dozens of model trains, including a freight train with 67 cars that loops repeatedly in, over, under, and around itself through all kinds of hills, over bridges, and around embankments. This was one of the Wonders of the World when I was a kid, and still remains… fairly decent, though sadly somewhat diminished, just like the glowing colors of the Christmas tree. I wonder if I’ll ever get that feverish Christmas excitement back, or whether I’ll need to do it vicariously through the little baby in the reindeer antlers pictured above. Frankly, either way is fine. Merry Christmas, y’all!

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