"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" sang Perry Como in 1951. Written by Meredith Wilson in Nova Scotia, the hollyberries and pinecones were probably easier to spot. Here in Hollywood, there's very little that indicates Christmas is coming. Today's high was a balmy 77 degrees and the blissed out blue skies are ubiquitous. I felt nothing like the holiday spirit until I made a playlist, which I now blast in my house as I hang decorations and light candles. You can download it too:
One child is home from college in Maine and the other arrives from Brooklyn tomorrow. The tree is up and crammed full of sweet ornaments collected over the years or from the tree trimming party I had two years ago to cheer myself up as a newly single woman who didn't want to bathe in the memories of all the other family Christmases. I have hundreds of ornaments: balls and baubles, woodland creatures, Hawaiian sand dollars, peace signs and feathers encased in glass, trains and planes, and glittery paper stars made by Ned, aged 5. The tree is sweet and magnificent, covered in hundreds of lights, and left on all night by me so I can see the reflection through my bedroom door.
There is no snow, no-one is bundled up in coats and boots and gloves and scarves, no bobble hats, no elk or reindeer or people with red noses and cold fingers falling into pubs which blurt out Wizzard's "I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day" or "Do They Know It's Christmas?" No Heston Blumenthal plum puddings in Waitrose or cozy walks in snowy valleys.
However, there is a tub of Robertson's mincemeat ready for the pies, and a pile of Christmas cards from friends with cute children and crazy orange and red sunsets bleeding across the sky. The pepper tree is full of little red berries and the Christmas cactus is has popped out scarlet fruit on the hillside.
"I've bought a wreath to put on the grave" said my mother on the phone from England this morning. "Oh I'm sure Pappa will love that" I said. "You know, he hated Christmas" she said. Not really a surprise. Every year we were told, without irony, that all he wanted for Christmas were some razor blades. And so, I suppose, this is a strange time of year for me. But here's what you do: get up and shower every day, go for a long walk, do your yoga (or whatever it is you do) and listen to a lot of Frank Sinatra and Darlene Love. They always get you in the mood.