Thursday, December 11, 2008
Depression and Christmas
My mom, pictured above in 1978 working on a homemade Christmas decoration, loved Christmas. She trotted out her brightest red clothes, decorated everything, made a lot of food and invited everyone over. Today's Holidailies writing prompt is to share a recipe. Besides the peals of laughter from those who know me at me giving cooking advice, I just couldn't even get into sharing a cheesy spinach casserole my mom and I used to both enjoy preparing. But I digress, this is about Christmas and that other kind of depression. But, come to think of it, times were never very flush for my mother, back in the day when she made such a fuss over holidays.
Yesterday I had to go to my dad's neighborhood and do a couple of things for him. I decided to check out Costco if the parking lot didn't look too horrible. Dad needed paper towels and I thought I'd get one of those giant packs for all the families we shop for to share and pick up some cheese. But not if the store was overrun with people buying electronics and toys and, you know, Christmas presents. I got a pretty good parking place (it was a weekday, but two weeks before Christmas??) As I went around the store getting cheese, yogurt dip, paper towels, toilet paper, Ibuprofen, chips and crackers (stocking up for the holidays), I looked in the other people's carts. This is something I frequently do, finding what other people buy sort of fascinating.
What struck me about the shopping carts yesterday at Costco? I didn't see any toys. Two people had some Christmas wrap or tags and one lady had some gift-packaged candy. Most carts had basic foods, paper goods, snack trays or foods and wine. Lots of wine. I didn't see anyone buying cameras, computers, iPods, luggage, toys or other gift items. Mine was a small sample, of course. I did see several people taking an interest in a gingerbread house kit and one guy buying those fake log things for the fireplace. (It was cold and windy out.)
It was just one moment at Costco, but I had the feeling everyone was getting ready to hunker down, to cocoon with their loved ones and eat.
In the evening a friend and I wandered out of our building to get a bite and a drink and encountered several Christmas parties...two occupying all or part of a restaurant we couldn't therefore get into and a third occupying a big table and part of the public area of the place we finally settled on to enjoy our bites and libations. I'm sure these events had been planned for a while, of course.
I'm thinking that people are eating. And drinking. And thinking of staying home and sharing fewer gifts but maybe more conviviality. The depression may have forced our hand in the matter. And that other kind of depression? Well, it always sneaks around me this time of year, but this year is no worse than any other.