Each year, the winter holiday season always finds me greeting it with fidgety awkwardness. Why? For one, the holidays are completely unavoidable. For two, they’re always rigidly defined. And for three, the expectations can mash into dizzying highs but swiftly sail into cavernous lows. These things might be what draws me so closely to Carnival, as Mardi Gras remains fairly avoidable, it changes timelines every year, and no one really cares throughout its discourse anyway. Miss a parade? Fine. Wanna skip town altogether? No big. Do whatcha wanna is more than a new ad campaign for Touro. It remains a relatively new staple in the Fat Tuesday song cannon courtesy of none other than the Rebirth Brass Band. And God bless ’em and the song, because for me, it sums it up. But personal preferences on Christmas and New Year’s? Not so much.
Santa only delivers overnight on the 24th. Only. Never any other date. Always seven days later a new year is born. Always. Around the globe, for almost everyone. These things will not change. And they have happened this way for many moons and will continue to unfurl in this fashion with precision and expected regime until who can say. So pardon me if I get a little Cathy on the situation, tossing my hands in the air with frizzled hair. I need air. I need the sweet freedom that comes in the unconfined and less predictable.We do celebrate the seasons though. We exchange gifts and swill eggnog-based beverages with the best of them. But we may or may not reign in the Halloween spiders in time for St Nick (though they didn’t even leave the hall closet this year). The Mardi Gras wreath might still be on the door from last year (because it is). And a tree? Well, that changes every year too. Last year we actually purchased a real tree. The first one ever. Really. After years of makeshift fake ones or dressed up house plants. A real, room-sized, needle-shedding tree. And when we were poised to likely buy another this year from the same purveyor as last year (insert plug for Freret Garden Center here), they’d already sold out by the time we made it over to buy. So, we will try for a new tradition. We bought a handsome 4ft tall potted citrus tree instead, decorating it two nights ago, and on 12/26 that little green gem will go in the ground. And voila. We didn’t kill a tree, supported a local business (again), and will plant a fruit-bearing tree to boot. And I stayed sane doing it. Ta da!
But I can’t say I have the same handle on holiday music. Like hot curling irons in my earballs, I can only take so much, and that my friends is very, very little. Meanwhile my wife and kids are digging on endless renditions of Let It Snow, and I’m all cross-eyed in crisis mode. It just doesn’t end. No, to letting it snow. No no no. The weather outside is frightful. That is all. I was reared on the classics, performing with my Episcopalian grade school classmates each year a pageant of unparalleled proportions courtesy the hardest working music teacher in all of Southest Texas in the form of Mrs. Graham. One year I was even one of the wise men, and I brought frankincense. I mean, I was just trying to do my part. I don’t know. Maybe I spent all my holiday cheer in those year-in year-out pageants as a kid, and the repetitiveness wore me down. To be fair, Mrs. Graham was no one-trick pony, and more than once lured us in with contemporary secular piano-driven songs (though they are few). Can I get a Sister Christian? And God bless Night Ranger too.
I suppose the takeaway here is holidays are what they are to whoever may celebrate them, though end-of-calendar-year festivities never seemed to have much wiggle room to me. But let’s revisit this topic in twelve months when I hope to have some rockin’ satsumas to share with the world, born from my 2013 Christmas tree. An annual fruit bearing Christmas tree planting? There must be worse traditions to adhere to, no?
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.