It’s pretty stagey to begin with, isn’t it? Full of ritual, some so old we don’t know why we still perform them. What I like best is the food, not the cakes and cookies, delicious as they are, but savory meals and the warmth of a full table. Second to that, decorating.
The past year has given me opportunity to reflect on the tasks I love, and why, and the basis for the work I’m passionate about. Curiously, it began in high school, as the props mistress for drama productions, morphed into installations, performance art, and site specific sculpture in college, before metastasizing into exhibition development, installation, and historic house interpretation with a side line in living history because, you know, costumes. Things and I go way back, and thinking about that made getting ready for yet another Christmas more fun.
Embracing the staginess makes the sometimes uncomfortable family closeness easier; I have proposed celebrating by reenacting a Don Draper Christmas, as long as someone else does the driving. Adding a layer of actual performance somehow made it easier to understand, a phenomenon opposite to what happens when you write a word over and over until it makes no sense. It’s the same distance you feel when you really try to understand someone’s past, and how they think. It’s familiar, but somehow unrecognizable.
This is probably the last Christmas in this apartment, which adds a poignancy to the proceedings, and it’s the first interactions for some participants, so, as with What Cheer Day, I’ve set a stage and we’ll see what happens.
Every year, some things are the same: a balsam fir, candles, apples, cats. The characters and locations ebb and flow, with some consistency. Cats come and go, the boy grows. The love remains the same.