The most essential ingredient for Christmas, in my opinion, is nostalgia. There’s a need for those wistful moments that make you feel the same giddiness year after year. It would be a fair assumption that the older we get the more we lose our grip on that Christmas magic; those “I believe in Santa Claus” feelings and dreams of sugarplums dancing in our heads.
I’ve hardly had time to blink at the holidays. December rolled up with a flurry of storms, drenching all of Sonoma County. The winds blew with a tremendous force, and the rivers rose, breaching the banks and flooding the fields. And the snails sought refuge from the floodwaters. So we huddled indoors, watching raindrops fall like plinko balls down the windowsill.
The rain ceased just in time to allow for the roommates and I to pick out a tree for the house. As a kid, this momentous event was the first piece of the puzzle to bring Christmas cheer. We would always go out the day after Thanksgiving, rain or shine, to a tree farm on the outskirts of town and find a pristine fir to furnish the family room. An older couple, Mr. & Mrs. Harrich, owned the farm and every year, Mrs. Harrich baked “Krisp Kringle” cookies, a basic drop cookie, loaded with Crisco and crushed corn flakes, and crowned with a crosshatched top—the result of a fork pressed into the dough before baking. When you bite into it, it crumbles into buttery bits that get caught on your lips and shirtfront. The flavor is purely rich and calorific. She also warmed apple cider, a perfect complement to the Kringle. For my brother and sister and I, the cookies and cider were a far more important component to our happiness than trudging through aisles of trees in search of one with the perfect shape and size. We noshed on cookies and sipped on cider while narrowing down our choices for our new ornament (another yearly tradition).
Alas, the Harrich’s retired from the tree business many years ago, and my roommates and I had to settle for a pre-cut tree. Jon hoped there would be donuts and cider, and for the sake of nostalgia and the Christmas spirit, I hoped there would be too. Instead, we received a rather impersonal and unsatisfying experience from the staff – though we reveled in our tree finding. It was a glorious find, despite its slanted stump, which was a hassle to get to stand up straight.
The tree was up, and before I knew it, the lights were strung, and the days were flying by. A week in Boston, celebrating Amber’s 30th and rubbing elbows with the nor’easterners was wonderful. Christmas lights adorned the city, and the frosty weather gave me a wintry Christmas feeling I’ve never had before. Snow flurries started falling on our final hours, and I found myself not wanting to leave – completely cozy on a third-story walk-up, complete with blueberry-oatmeal pancakes and coffee. But more on my Bostonian adventures in a future post.
Before I knew it, I was back to work and Christmas was only a week away. I kept hoping that the season would slow down. I wanted more time to reflect on past Christmases. I haven’t got my fill of smelling Douglas fir and baking cookies. I wanted to sit on Mimaw and Papaw’s faded cobalt-blue sofa and wear a red and white, reindeer Christmas sweater – which apparently is trendy again (for adults) and I bet I could pay $50 for one at Abercrombie & Fitch. I wanted to stand in Mom’s kitchen with two missing front teeth, and watch as cookies get off baking sheets and placed on cooling racks, and fall asleep on the couch to the soft sounds of instrumental melodies.
Between work and traveling, I spent nearly two weeks away from my house. But now that I’m back, I’m soaking up the gleam up Christmas lights. I’m making up for lost time, plunging full on, in search of Christmas nostalgia. Mostly, I just want to sit on the couch, stare at the Christmas tree, and daydream. Now, if I just had a batch of Krisp Kringles.