(Portable) Holiday Spirit

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder


I don’t know if any of you listened to the A Prairie Home Companion this weekend on NPR. When I do catch it, I find it to be so comforting. I think it reminds me of small towns like the one I grew up in where you know your neighbors, you know the seasons and their signs, you know many of the silly petty things going on behind-the-scenes in the community and in retrospect can roll your eyes at them. And of course Garrison Keiller‘s voice couldn’t be more nostalgic and warm.

Yesterday I caught the beginning of the program in the car on the way to brunch in West Hollywood with the sun shining, the sky blue, windows cracked. The episode was about Christmas. Here in Los Angeles, Christmas feels so different than it did back in Illinois. No snow obviously, but also fewer carols, fewer lights, no breath on the cold air when you go outside. It’s exciting when you have to wear a hat. And it rains.

So something about hearing this on Sunday morning, Garrison Keillor’s voice introducing his memories of Christmas…. It was so sentimental. Got me all teary-eyed. If you have a chance to listen to the first half of the program it would be a wonderful way to get yourself in the Christmas spirit. I especially like one part of his introduction monologue in which he recalled the many places he has spent many Christmases. He said something along the lines of, “Christmas is a portable holiday. You can take it with you wherever you go when you remember Christmases past.”



I also attended a Christmas party the night before for a wonderful theater company, the Theatricum Botanicum, up in the Topanga mountains. The night was cozy and festive in a mountainy kind of way: a blazing fireplace, a grand room with couches, chairs and benches, pine and wood decor with mulled wine on the stove. Two young women led all of the guests in the singing of some Christmas carols. This is my second suggestion for getting yourself in the holiday spirit. Sing carols. With someone, anyone. Look them in the eye as you sing. Hold their hand. Bring to mind all the people you have shared this portable holiday with before. It is sure to make you feel the love we are all meant to feel at this time of the year.

And with all that said, I don’t mean it all to exclude anyone who celebrates another holidays this time of the year!  I might not know these traditions as well, but I’m sure that within them there are songs, symbols, and rituals that also bring out such nostalgia and love. Relish them. Soak them up and let them move you.

Happy (portable) holiday season, everyone.