What the Holidays Bring


28 November 2010

I confess that the winter holidays are not my best time of year.  They sneak up on me, and all of a sudden I realize I’m tense and furrowed in the brow.  From now until January 2, I will, figuratively speaking, be closing my eyes and thinking of England. [Note: I’m not sure where this expression comes from, originally.  I know that I took it from Aaron Sorkin/The West Wing and use it probably too often.]

A few years ago it dawned on me that somewhere along the way I’d allowed Rockwellian kitsch to get under my skin.  That year, my family had exploded into chaos.  On impulse, and with little in the way of better alternatives, I went straight to the source, a kind of exorcism: I spent Christmas at a bed and breakfast in Stockbridge, MA — Norman Rockwell country.  We ate prime rib by the hearth, the whole deal.  It was snowing buckets.  We drove by Rockwell’s house, went to the Rockwell Museum, I even bought the monograph.  I learned that Rockwell’s work had been misappropriated; that he was an artist of dimensional talents; that his life and vision were nothing like the weirdly placid winter-wonderland harmony Americans had internalized.

This year, Flavorwire offers us “5 Literary Families More Dysfunctional Than Yours.”   Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve read each of these, and treasure them all.   Enjoy!

Update (thanks, Wendy!):  on the origins of the expression “Close your eyes and think of England” – hilarious!


3 Responses to “What the Holidays Bring”

  1. Lisa Peet Says:

    I’m not a fan of the holiday season myself, and avoid the whole thing as much as possible. In my book the biggest good-cheer bang for your buck you can get on December 25th is a giant beef marrow bone (around $2 at Fairway); wrap it up and give it to a deserving dog. All other demonstrations of joy and gratitude pale. I do that and then as far as I’m concerned, I’m done.

  2. As a fellow West Wing fanatic, your post prompted me to do a quick google search and I found this link that describes the origin of the phrase – http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/close-your-eyes-and-think-of-england.html.

    Regarding Rockwell, when I visited the Rockwell Museum, I was amazed at how I (and others) have underestimated him. He was so much more than an illustrator, a true artist.

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