Clementine Pumpkins

Last weekend, I stripped Halloween from every shelf, wall, window, table, windowsill, and crevice. Bill and the boys carried the tubs from the basement out to the barn loft. Now, the living room, kitchen, and dining room feel spacious. The rooms are breathing, filling up their lungs to prepare for the next intense barrage after Thanksgiving. I’m in the coffee shop where the barista has made a poinsettia-like latte for me – it just needs a few red sprinkles to complete the visual sensation. The Christmas music in the background made me smile -- until another regular came in and said, “What is this music?!? We just took the bats down!” And the channel was changed. Ugh.

I’ve been listening covertly to a Capella Christmas music since the beginning of September. With the five-part harmony of Pentatonix, I can pitch my atonal voice in anywhere and it blends just fine – when in the confines of my van.

Bill caught me in the tub one evening in the middle of a Pentatonix holiday concert (but I was not singing). His “What the… ???” was met by my, “Out! This is my private space!!” On November 1st, Bill sent me an email with a list of all the radio stations that are playing Christmas music. This, despite the year I high-jacked his pre-set buttons on November 1st: I programmed every one to the same Christmas station. His old rock'n'roll channels were nowhere to be found. I love spreading good cheer like that!

Occasionally, the blue-tooth connection in the van connects randomly. I picked up a friend for lunch in late-September and used voice recognition to text and let her know I had arrived. She got into the van and as she shut the door, “Silent Night” started blaring. To her shocked amusement, I replied, “Sorry, I thought I had it turned off!” It will take a while for that to escape her memory.

My logical Will is not a fan of Christmas music before December. He knows about my recent propensity to play out-of-season Christmas a Capella; however, I turn the volume down completely when I pick him up from school. I note his quiet glances to the screen and the small appreciative smile he gives me after he reads, “Mary Did You Know."

Liam, on the other hand, let’s me sneak in Christmas tunes. We were home alone the night before Halloween making treats for school: peeling Clementines and adding a celery stalk stem to create pumpkins. Cooking isn’t cooking for me without music playing. Short-order cooking doesn’t require music because I need all senses to focus on the preparation of three different meals. But for leisurely cooking, crooners like Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra are my accompaniment to food creativity. As we started to peel 40 clementines, I whispered to Liam, “Do you care if we put on some Christmas music?”

“That’s fine, Mom!” I obviously have some credits built up in my court for the allowance of more electronics time as he’s gotten older. I met Liam in the middle; he’s not a fan of loud a Capella, so we peeled clementines with my crooners singing Christmas standards. And five minutes later, there I was… steeping in tricked out senses. Visions of orange and green combined with Liam’s bright eyes and smile; sounds of Christmas melodies and Liam’s snickers and chortles; smells of citrus and that stringy vegetable; tastes of juicy fruit and the trying of celery (which Liam spat out into the sink); and touches of soft orange rinds, the feeling of the knife sculpting pumpkin stems, and a gentle elbowing between Liam and me. The scene ramped up to euphoria. One of those times where you are so thoroughly in the middle of here-and-now, that the exhilaration of the moment is the axis upon which the world spins. Even once past, that memory whips up an elated memory with the intensity like that of the Grinch whose heart has been newly warmed.

Post-Halloween, and back to our normal routine, I had Christmas music playing when I picked up Liam from school one day. He asked me why I play Christmas music this early. I hesitated. Do I answer honestly or breeze over the question?

“Liam, I don’t want to sound grim, but sometimes I think, ‘What if I’m not here at Christmas? Why should I wait until December to play my favorite music?’ Sometimes you should just do what you love to do and not wait for the perfect or right time.”

“Yeah... I get it, Mom, but that is a little dark.”

But it’s the truth. And I’m loving every listening, from “Silent Night” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Jingle Bells.” Perhaps I will have had enough when we reach Easter? Maybe.

But for today... Have Yourself a Merry Little Hump Day!