Christmas Eve already; how this year has raced by. We're not, despite the insipration of Miss Kate Smith here (and I am mad for her seasonally festive gown - she's like a vast present trundling down toward the adoring crowd), spending it in our home towns, of course. If nothing else, that would mean Mr. Muscato and I being thousands of miles apart, which is hardly ideal and would upset the dogs no end.
It's an appealing notion, though, isn't it? Going back in time, going back home - carols in the square, laughter everywhere - but far from practical. Back in my hometown, the square (we actually had one, smack in the center of downtown where your town square should be) is practically abandoned; it's been thirty years since there was a department store downtown, and even the imposing old Carnegie-built town library has closed, replaced by a cheerless brick box miles away. They may have carols in the strip mall at the edge of town where all the big-box stores have been closing these past four years, but that hardly seems the same thing and not the stuff of which socko Hollywood Palace numbers are made.
No, we are resisting nostalgia and having Christmas right here in the Sandlands. It always seems very "White Christmas"-sy - the orange and palm trees do indeed sway, although we are very far away from Beverly Hills, L.A. - but over the years we've gotten used to balmy Christmas Eves and soldier on with all the heavy traditional favorites, leavened with mangoes and Egyptian delicacies and other innovations that certainly would have puzzled the old folks at home. This year, friends from our days in the Sultanate have flown in from the neighboring Sandland they've wound up in, and we're being quite merry.
Even here, I have a few reminders of Christmases past - ornaments we put on our little tree, some dishes and silver and even a pot or pan or two that figured in those vast Christmas dinners that rolled titanically out of the kitchen under the watchful eye of the grandmothers and aunts. I will likely at some point tomorrow spend a moment or two by myself, with the memories that I'm the only one on this side of the world to have, watch the ghosts come and go in my mind. But just for a moment or two. I know how lucky I am - lucky to have the sentimental memories (the dreams and just pretending), but luckier still to have the now from which to reminisce. After all these years, at Christmas Eve, I've learned, my hometown is wherever I am spending it, wherever that may be.