One of my favorite holiday traditions has become my friends' JJ and Marisol's annual caroling party. Sunday night was the second year I participated, and it was magical. This year's theme was Sock Puppets. Our merry crew took to the streets of Angelino Heights, which teems with beautiful Victorian homes. Our sock-covered hands belted out holiday classics like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Come on Feel the Noise," accompanied by an acoustic guitar. We were invited into a few homes and rewarded with cookies (and in one case, a fistful of joints).
I'm not a scrooge. I can get behind secular holiday traditions -- spending time with loved ones, preparing/eating rich food, the spirit of generosity, etc. What I'm not down with is the rampant consumerism, which punches me in the gut a little harder each year. How many Starbucks gift cards, scented candles, ugly scarves and functionless thingamabobs does a person need? This year, I'm bowing out. I'm not buying a single gift, and those who might be inclined to buy me something are under instructions not to bother.
What I'm also not down with is another Phoenix Christmas. I'd rather visit my mom under different circumstances. It's just she and my brother and we don't have any traditions to speak of. She usually works on Christmas anyway. So, a few months ago, I made an executive decision to do what I wanted to with my holiday off-time. I'm spending 12 days in Costa Rica, learning Spanish and practicing yoga. Adios, muchachos.
Mom wasn't thrilled about my holiday travel plans, but to compensate, I offered to buy her the French Bulldog she's been dreaming about for months. Apparently, this dog is a suitable stand-in for me. She lit up as soon as I made the offer, and Costa Rica hasn't been mentioned since. Win-win.
Next year, I'm dreaming of a Thai Christmas. I wonder what animal I will have to sacrifice for that one.