Christmas in the Time of Climate Change
Updated: Aug 4
If you have read previous posts on Queer Martha, you are most likely very aware of how much I love Christmas. I start to get excited about Christmas around the beginning of July - right when the humidity in Philadelphia suddenly pulls you into a giant, suffocating bear hug that lasts through mid-September. Now, I am a woman of the Northeast. I don't really mind the humidity. As soon as it picks up in the summer, however, it reminds me of how much I long for a blizzard to blow through town and shut shit down. Some of my happiest memories involve me losing feeling in my face as I wait in the cold for someone to arrive. Rachel and I spend Valentine's Day in Chicago one year, and, let me tell you, I cannot imagine a place with nicer weather. The cold makes me feel alive.
Part of what makes Christmas so special for me is the cold weather. The cold makes eating a ton, drinking a ton, and hanging out with a ton of family so enjoyable because it satisfies a deep need to keep warm. The warmth of Christmas gets us through the rest of the winter! Hell, the warmth of Christmas gets me through the rest of the year! Christmas in the Northeast should be cold!
If you are anywhere in the Northeast right now you are well aware that this Christmas will not be cold. Not only will it not be cold... it will be warm. I am struggling to process the prediction that the high on Christmas Eve - when I am normally happily shivering in my panty hose as we walk to church after Wigilia dinner - will be 75 degrees. I don't feel good about it.
If you, like me, are having a hard time getting into the Christmas swing of things this year due to the dasterdly effects of climate change - or due to the dasterdly effects of anything else in your life - (and let's just pause here for a second to acknowledge in all seriousness that dampening my Christmas spirit might be the least offensive effect of climate change), I have a few suggestions for you that might just help.
1. Dress for the weather in your heart.
Oh, the weather outside is frighteningly comfortable and you have been walking around your house in a halter top? That's not how you get into the Christmas spirit. The first thing that you should do is put on some earmuffs, maybe a pair of mittens, why not some snow pants? Try to recall that amazing feeling of your face being absolutely freezing, but your body being awkwardly sweaty under all those layers. That's it. You're finding that special Christmas feeling. The next thing to do is to dress your cat in the same way. She deserves to feel Christmas, too.
2. Subsist on a diet solely comprised of Christmas Cookies
You might think that I am joking, but I am not joking when I say that Rachel and I ate meals made up of a variety of Christmas cookies for dinner three times last week. We tried to "eat the rainbow," as they say. The multitude of colors on these cut-out cookies made that easy. We mix and matched baked cookies with straight-up cookies dough, as well. My favorite cookies were the Elvis Stegosaurus and the no-pants mustache man. Presumably, if we keep eating Christmas cookies for dinner, we, too, will be no-pants soon. All in the name of finding Christmas.
3. Keep trucking away at your Advent calendar.
I have not updated you on my l'Occitan en Provence Advent calendar. I have peony scented hands, verbena scented arms, lavender scented feet, and rose scented hair. If you close your eyes as I walk into the room you will think you have been transported into a summer field in bloom. It's amazing. Also, yesterday I got a star-shaped cookie cutter from this box of wonders. Indeed, no matter the weather outside, when I open the next little illustrated Parisian window each morning I feel la joie de noël.
I mentioned in my previous post that having an Advent calendar gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. This is never more true that when it is 60 degrees outside and you wake up unclear about where you are and what time of year it is. This uncertainty spirals down until you are unsure about all sort of things like what day of the week it is, who is next to you in the bed, where you come from, and how you got to this place. Right as you are perched precariously on the edge of this existential precipice, you remember your advent calendar in the other room. You open it and see that 21 boxes are opened. That means today must be the 22nd. Everything starts to fall into place. The Christmas spirit builds.
4. Visit Santa as often as possible.
You think that you eventually grow out of respecting Santa as an authority figure in your life. You say to yourself, "Whether I am naughty or I am nice... Santa doesn't care. I bet he doesn't even have a list. And he is certainly not checking it more than once. Screw it." You pass the mall Santas making false promises to children and you think, "I remember when I was impressionable like that. No more. I'm an adult now."
And then you find yourself sharing a dressing room with Santa at a holiday concert. Sure, he tells you his name is Chuck, and, yes, his beard was hanging off his chin, but suddenly none of that matters. You are on your best behavior and you start inexplicably describing all the good deeds you did recently to no one in particular hoping Santa will hear. You also keep calling him Santa - pretending you are joking because you know his name is actually Chuck and isn't this funny - but you know that there is no way you are calling him anything but Santa. Listen, I have seen enough Hallmark Christmas movies to know that the REAL Santa always plays his identity down when he introduces himself to adults. I got your number, "Chuck."
5. Sartorial choices matter.
If you aren't feeling the season seeping through your veins yet, start on the outside and let it work its way in. Dress exclusively in festive attire. Mix the highs and the lows, the casual and the formal, but make sure to incorporate as much gold, red, and sequins as possible. Don't forget about the all-important accessories when choosing your outfit. Everybody knows reindeer antlers and festive babies help to make the season bright.
6. Drink to forget (how warm it is outside)
When I was living in France, our local grocery store would do in-store champagne tasting right before Christmas so that you could be sure to buy the champagne that was right for your dinner. I somehow managed every year to be shopping when the champagne tasting was happening. Though I never bought any champagne at the event, I did buy loads more groceries than necessary. It turns out that after tasting glass after glass of champagne, having six varieties of potato chips switches from a "want" to a "need."
The moral of this story, however, is that Christmas is a time to celebrate, no matter how weird the weather is or how imminent the demise of the world's major coastal areas seems to be. Break open the champagne! And while you are at it - break open the eggnog with brandy! Break open the hot cider with whiskey! Simmer some wine with a bunch of spices in it and drink it for lunch and say it's mulled, so it's classy! Make some Boilo - it's full of citrus and basically a health drink; drink it for breakfast! You do what you need to do to feel like the party has started because it is Christmas, weather be damned!
If you need me, I'm the one who smells like a bunch of flowers in the gold dress and earmuffs hanging out with Santa eating cookies and getting loaded on champagne. Merry Christmas!!