the day before Christmas Eve

blue spruce with raindrops

I typically enjoy the December holidays: strings of lights glowing at the darkest part of the year, people generally acting a shade nicer than usual, the holiday providing an excuse to eat homemade fudge and imported panettone and buy myself a little something special—because who else but me can know exactly what I want? But this year, I feel low on Christmas-solstice spirit.

The house is still overcrowded with items to sell and things I want to keep but haven't yet figured out where or how to store. So my desire for yet more stuff is at an all-time low (though I did pick up some free Herm├Ęs perfume samples from Nordstrom and treated myself to a few used books by way of a gift certificate from my summer birthday).

Then on top of the regular mess, my housemate slipped the other night on a slick floor and dumped a boiling pot of minestrone soup (that he was making for me) onto his bare legs and one arm, giving himself a spiral of second-degree burns; two days on, his left leg looks half-cooked, popped blisters in a range of sizes—small, medium, large—revealing raw red skin dotting extra-tanned, taut skin all the way from ankle to mid-thigh. (The doctor wasn't worried. It could have been worse.) And then I had to clean up the soup-splattered kitchen the following morning, scooping up peas, carrots, zucchini, and potatoes off the floor into my cupped palms and flushing all the cooked vegetables in homemade broth with homemade pesto down the garbage disposal, which wasn't fun but preferable to being the one whose appendages got poached. It's the most wonderful time of the year. As a result, in between fetching bandages, I've been binge-watching Game of Thrones because at least I don't have to worry about being shot with arrows by giants or poisoned by my queen sister.

evergreen shrub

So we have no Christmas tree, no lights, no ornaments, no stockings, no holiday tchotchkes. Our holiday trees are the ones standing outside in the rain year-round, rooted to the ground, nature's yard ornaments. I sent my family a box of my own household castoffs, small things they each might use, because I couldn't bear the thought of shopping, buying anything. It seems I've lost my taste for thrifting, or at least for acquiring.

I did, though, end up tagging along with Jeff (right before his accident) to a couple Goodwill stores and found myself in line at the cash register, watching a reindeer toy in sunglasses dancing on the counter to a pop song I'm too old to know, thinking once again about all the multitudinous crap made for Americans in China and the question of who's to blame, the drug pusher or the drug user? We buy it because it's made, or it's made because we buy it? Who would waste even a fraction of their income on a dancing plush-toy reindeer in sunglasses? Many people, obviously. And then today I ran across a Guardian article about the town where cheap Christmas decorations are made in southern China; the photo of the migrant factory worker in a Santa hat splattered from head to toe with toxic red paint alongside a table with rows of inverted red polystyrene boots should be enough to dampen the holiday spirit of more than just me.

holly berries with raindrops

But then there was the story of the monkey in India who essentially beat, like a rag doll, his or her mate (pal? relative?) for twenty minutes back to consciousness after the other got electrocuted on a wire at a train station. Now that's a resurrection worth talking about.

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