Holiday Cleaning

Why does it feel so good to clean my apartment within an inch of its life twice a year (spring cleaning and holiday cleaning)? This weekend is holiday cleaning weekend and I’m filled with that life-is-good feeling.

Somehow I’ve grown up to be ambivalent about the holidays, but there are certain things I still love about Christmas:

– holiday cleaning.
– the music, especially singing in the holiday concert at Grace Church.
– Christmas decorations, except this year I don’t think I’ll decorate. I might just admire everyone else’s.
– cold weather. If you had told me as a kid that I would grow up to love cold weather, (and become ambivalent about Christmas) I would have done more research into the exact location of Neverland.
– holiday movies.
– advent calendars.
– the smell of the Home Sweet Home candle made by Yankee.
– the Yule log. Excpet now I forget — is that on WPIX or WOR?
– pumpkin pie is everywhere and easy to find.
– I remember that stuffing exists.
– singing at the Neander family house.
– that Truman Capote Christmas story.

Ha. I guess there’s a lot I still like. What don’t I like? Much as I love to give and get presents, it’s just too much pressure. I would enjoy it a lot more if we all just got each other a token gift, like a brownie or a flower, or nothing at all.

Also, since I no longer believe in God, a lot of the magic is, of course, gone. When I was a kid, listening to Amahl and the Night Visitors, the whole idea of the star, the shephards, the three wise man, and the birth of this miraculous child, I remember being genuinely filled with awe. How could you not, if you really believed all this was true, and didn’t think about the ugly side of it, which you didn’t tend to do as child around Christmas.

Which reminds me, my next book is about the former Duke Parapsychology Lab and I was talking to a scientist who worked there in the 50’s I believe it was. I enjoyed our conversation (I’m so happy to be writing this book) and when I asked him if he believed in life after death, his answer was yes, and he was so calm and assured, and absolutely convinced and matter of fact. It was comforting.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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