My original plan was to be writing my book on England by Thanksgiving. I thought that by launching the novel off the emotional strain of being alone during the holidays, I'd really have something -- some angsty independence I'd never experienced this time of year, as I'm usually warm in the glow of family and friends through November and December. But I couldn't justify the early departure: I wanted to hit the two-year mark at the Dallas Observer (that'll be February), since I'm pretty sure I'll never find a regular writing gig I like this much again. Besides, I couldn't break it to Mom that I'd be gone during what is hands-down the Rees clan's favorite time of year.
So with some resentment I've been putting off the holiday spirit, which isn't too hard when it's 80 degrees outside. Unfortunately, my writing option this week was Thanksgiving weekend concert staged by the Fort Worth Symphony Pops Orchestra called Home for the Holidays -- a program of Christmas favorites ranging from early trad carols to grand compositions to pop gems. On November 26 and for two days after that, the Pops Orchestra and a 200-strong chorus will be among the first to trumpet out the Yuletide tunes. (My family won't spin our scratched and beloved copy of Motown Christmas until December 1.) How's that for jump-starting a flaccid holiday mood?
As my eyes scanned the composer names on the orchestra's printed set list -- Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Irving Berlin and, yup, Mel Torme -- and songs themselves, I felt my heart, a la The Grinch. Slices of "White Christmas" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" wafted through my brain, and all the associations I have with those sounds: selecting the tree, hanging lights, watching Linus explain the meaning of Christmas, listening to Mr. Hanky trill, "You all smell so nice and flowery!"
How could I have entertained the idea of leaving this time of year? I can just picture myself, slogging down a dark London street to the Muzak strains of "White Christmas" seeping from some tinseled fish-and-chips shop and wishing like hell I was back at home shooting foam bullets from a stocking-stuffer popgun. How many more holidays will I have with my family? And I almost sacrificed this year's Christmas for some self-indulgent artistic dues-paying. Whew. Home for the holidays, indeed.
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