Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again

I felt my first twinge of Christmas spirit this week. It was small and fleeting, similar to a quick body spasm that wakes you up in the middle of that annoying dream where you're falling. I hate both feelings: the scary sense that you're falling, and the sudden body-jerk of reassurance that you actually aren't, that it was just a dream.

It surprised me, to be honest, this sudden burst of Christmas cheer. I have never been one to allow myself to truly get in the Christmas spirit until after Thanksgiving. It's not that I go all Scrooge and "bah-humbug" on the holidays; I just want to take it one celebration at a time. But this year, I am feeling some uncommon pre-Turkey Day excitement.

Maybe it's my recent introduction to Starbucks peppermint mocha drinks that did it. Coffee AND mocha AND peppermint? Plus dollops of whipped cream and those adorable chocolate curls on top? For $3.25, you've got yourself a cup of Christmas cheer.

Aside from the seasonal drinks sweet enough to give you a cavity, I think my burst of holiday spirits started with the trees. I have lived in the woods and surrounded by nature since I was a little girl, which makes me somewhat of a 21st century Pochahontas by default ("Just around the riverbenddddd!!" Or in my case, just around the one-acre pond.)  I have learned you really can judge a lot by nature, especially the trees. I know that is pretty obvious, since everyone can clearly see trees lose their leaves, but aside from their looks, the trees just feel different, sound different. In the summer, their limbs are loud and alive, swirling their leaves around like they are having a conversation with the wind. But now it's November, and the trees are no longer chatty; with no leaves to swirl around with the air, they stand still and silent. I often find myself staring out the kitchen window, noticing how the limbs look skeletal, pointing awkwardly to the sky like broken fingertips. RIP pretty fall leaves.

I'm not a hippie.  I don't think...
I just appreciate nature. You know that Neature Walk Guy clip on Youtube where he's walking in the woods pointing at random nature-like things and saying, "How neat is that? Look at this, this is an Aspen. How neat!"
I'm like that.
Sort of.

Anyway, though the trees' lackluster limbs make the woods look depressingly bare and cold, it calls for celebration in the Henry household, a special holiday called "The Return of Normal TV Channels Day." The leave-less trees in the winter allow for a stronger signal presence straight to our Direct TV dish behind our house, which means we get what my mom calls "The Normal Channels": ABC, FOX, NBC, and CW. When the trees regain their leaves in the spring until the last leave drops in the fall, the thick foliage blocks the signal, and for some reason, it wipes out only the local stations. Or so that is what our Direct TV rep tells us.

The Return of the Normal TV Channels means a reunion of sorts. For me, it means reuniting with Grey's Anatomy, Glee, popular football games, Robin Roberts (I just like her for some reason). And perhaps most importantly, Modern Family. I really missed Phil and Cam.

My dad and I looking our
best in the Dad Recliner
Unlike Christmas falling on the 25th or Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday of the month,  we don't know when the Return of the Normal TV Channels Day will happen;  it all depends on the signal strength. So every day for the past few weeks, my dad has sat in his traditional "Dad Chair": a hunter green leather recliner we bought him at Godwins about six Christmases ago. I myself do not see the appeal to the chair; the leather feels cold and uncomfortable in the winter or hot and sticky in the summer. But Dad sits like a king in his throne in that Lazy Boy (such an ironic name) and made it his mission to see when we would get the local TV channels. An avid sports fan and news viewer, my dad was really missing those channels.

My father has a process he performed nightly. He'd slide into the leather seat, simultaneously easing his knees up and reaching for the wooden handle to recline the chair's footrest. Taking his time putting his legs up due to a bad left knee from years of blue-collar work, he'd reach for the remote.

"Let's see if we get the local channels yet, Sis!" my dad would say to me excitedly as he turned on the TV.

I'd smile, looking over the book I was reading.

"Maybe today's the day," I would reply.

"Let's take a look."

My dad would then press the remote button, and on would come the TV, the screen showing a clear screenshot from the MTV channel it was left on: Snooki from Jersey Shore dancing on a table in all her guidette glory.

Grabbing the gray remote again as Snooki now fell off the bar table, my dad would point the remote purposefully at the TV, pressing the fateful buttons. "005." Staring at the screen-- my dad versus the TV signal-- I would sit amused at his obvious hope that today would be the day we would get local TV, even though I really wanted it to come through too. I missed my guilty-pleasure shows.

As the TV registered the remote's request, my dad and I would stare at the screen, waiting. Then suddenly, a shot of the local newsman would come through, though it was pixalated. The newscaster looked like a robot, a square of his eye over to the left with a patch of green to his right, his mouth moving like a puppeteer, choppy words coming through that didn't make sense: "The....she said...no one was hurt..."

"We're getting closer," my dad grinned, albeit disappointed the TV signal was not strong enough yet.

Every night, we'd go through this process: eagerness, anticipation, semi-excitement coupled with disappointment.

It wasn't until this weekend that we got to fully celebrate The Return of the Normal TV Channels. My dad sat in his recliner, pressing the remote buttons as usual. This time, though, the pictures were clear:

"005," he'd type, and a clear picture of the newscaster popped up, now looking human instead of robotic: "Tonight, on abc12, we will discuss how you can prepare your home for winter."

"Look, Linds!" he said. "It's coming in!"

"Yes!" I grinned at his happiness.

"012" he typed next. Ty Pennington on Extreme Home Makeover was now smiling back at us, screaming, "Move that bus!" as a family of four began crying at the sight of their new home.

"Jean!" my dad called excitedly to my mom, flipping to channel 25, 66. It was true. We now got local TV.

We probably shouldn't be so elated that we are getting local channels; there are certainly better or more productive things to do than watch TV. I think it has to do with the whole "want what you can't have" effect, plus the excitement from checking every day to see if today was "the day." And yes, what can I say? We are a TV-loving family.

So the trees are bare, we're getting local TV channels, and Starbucks has their Christmas drinks out. I think it is safe to say my levels of Christmas spirit will only increase. Bring on the snow. And the cold. And wet jean pantlegs. And cold cars with ice covering the windshield.

Hm. Maybe I'm in the Christmas spirit, but I am not quite ready for winter yet.

And with that, I am going to go back to listening to my Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas album.

1 comment:

  1. I caught myself playing my Taylor swift holiday album
    Last week .... I love her version of silent night! Also, you should move to NC, it was 74 degrees today & there's not even a remote sign of snow in the relatively near future ;) ;)