Hubby and I teem with that Gen X kind of ironic humor that you will either find normative or irritating, depending on your perspective. Having a 70s-80s Southern suburban upbringing helps, but the last thing either one of us wants is the kind of Christmas celebration where we sit in someone’s house with an alcohol-free bev, making self-censored small talk, commenting how nice the hostess’s handpainted sweatshirt is. Even when forced to “celebrate” that way, I’d manage to creep back to the kitchen and have a cackle with a favorite aunt, and share the cleaning up. My first window into another world of Christmas celebration was the year I got a shortwave radio as a gift and listened to the BBC World Service announcers on-air drunk as skunks. I was scandalized and amused and filed that memory away.
Now that we can shape our own Christmas customs, we do. So we’re still firmly in Advent. The tree isn’t up. We’ve only played the Jim Nabors Christmas album once. We’re not burned-out like some; good, easy-going times await. (Both stollen, as I might have guessed, however, have been long devoured.)
Christmas eve and day will be suitably devout with two or three services all told. We’ll exchange gifts. Perhaps a little wintery promenade, as we like. But then what?
Jews, of course, have had to face this question as non-combatants for ages, without the joy of six hours in church as a benefit. The customary Jewish answer to the December 25 question — which I first heard of from friends in college — has to be the right idea. After the last service, Hubby and I are going to have Chinese food and watch a movie.
Several articles on this December 25 stand-by have been written; interpretations why exist too.
Up in the Cleveland Park neighborhood — across from Congregation Adas Israel — is a wonderful old-school Chinese restaurant. Eisenhower took Khrushchev there, and they have the photos up to prove it. To keep the retro theme going, there’s the Uptown Theater down the block: a classic one-big-screen movie house. That would be perfect if they play The Producers.
I just won’t see King Kong on Christmas Day.
If not, we have a back-up plan. Go to Chinatown. There are some lovely dim sum places were you can get a mean cocktail, and the new — if less authentic architecturally — Gallery Place where there’s a multiplex.
I’m quite looking forward to it, and apart from buying a few cookies and breakfast foods, my Christmas prep plans are over.