Finding the Christmas spirit

Happy holidays homos and the few straights that seek me out for my warmth, heart and humor. I hope you are all full of the Christmas spirit. Christmas spirit is such a weird and wonderful thing, isn’t it? Some years I feel it, and some years I gotta fake it.

Since the world of advertisers and the world of early decorators start to force Christmas down your throat before Halloween is even over, it seems like Christmas is here for a little too long. So by the time Christmas is finally here, I tend to get a little Grinchy. No shade to the early decorators; I firmly believe you should do what makes you happy. My problem is trying to stay cheery for two months when I can barely be cheery for two hours.

Christmas spirit is kind of like a drug, and you are always chasing that high. I feel Christmassy at the weirdest times, like shopping with my husband, forcing our dogs to wear their Christmas clothes and, of course, with movies and music. Certain movies get me in a Christmas way really quick. The last 30 minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life is that perfect sweet spot, but I can’t sit through the first hour and 40 minutes.

The movie Scrooged is by far one of my all-time favorites. I remember seeing it in the theater with my mom when it came out back in 1988. We must have watched it on opening weekend, because it was a packed theater, and, at the end when Bill Murray turns “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” into a sing-along, the entire movie theater was singing.

It was so random, but I remember getting choked up. That is the kind of high I am talking about — such a great feeling.

Speaking of Scrooge, my very first theater experience was when I was in the third grade, and we saw A Christmas Carol. I was going to school in Corsicana, and they bused us to Waxahachie to see their high school production. It was fabulous … for a third grader (You know my jaded ass would have read it for filth if I was in high school). I remember being so in awe of everything — the costumes, the make-up, the acting. Shoulda known then about the gayness to come.

Kids have it easy when it comes to Christmas spirit. Little bastards.

I am not a very religious person now, but when I was 17 it was all I could think of. Being told that you were going to hell your entire life for being who you are can have that effect on you. I went to church a lot with my best friend’s family, and one time — in a church — I felt the Christmas spirit.

It was Christmas Eve, and whatever church we were at that week had a candle-lighting ceremony. They were Mormon when I first met them, then they tried a few other churches before they found one they felt comfortable with. I think this particular church was just a straight-up Christian church. No snakes or speaking in tongues, but that woulda been cool.

The Mormon church a few years before made me extremely uncomfortable. The first time I went they were talking about homosexuals, of course, and the burning lake of fire that I was gonna spend eternity skinnydippin’ in. Then the next week, we were apparently supposed to be fasting that day, but we showed up smelling like bacon and got all kinds of dirty looks.

Anywho, at the candle lighting ceremony I had an epiphany.

Everyone spread out and formed a giant circle, then they lit a candle, and the flame was passed from candle to candle as they played “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” It was really beautiful.

I stood there, a 17-year-old gay kid, and decided that there was no way I was going to hell. That just stopped feeling like a fear I had. In that moment, I think I accepted myself, and I knew none of the shit I was being told was true. It just did not feel right in my heart.

As the flame came closer to me, I teared up. I cried a little. I lit my candle and felt lighter. I let go of a lot of shame right then, and definitely felt the Christmas spirit that night. I came out to my friends soon after that.

Of course, there are songs that get me in the Christmas mood. The Once Upon a Christmas album by Kenny and Dolly is my jam. I love every song on that album, and it gives me all of the retro Christmas vibes I need to get in the holiday spirit.

There is a song called “River” by Joni Mitchell. I’m not sure if it is a true Christmas song, but it gets me in my feelings every time I hear it. Other artists have covered it — Idina Menzel, Sarah McLachlan, Heart, Olivia Rodrigo and a bunch of others — and I love every version of it I hear. It gets me in a different kind of Christmas spirit. It reminds me that sometimes the Christmas spirit can be somber.

Though the Christmas spirit is fleeting, it is nice when it finds you. So, I am going to try to be less Grinchy this year and be more like Clark Griswold and do whatever it takes to have a great Christmas. I hope you do the same. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!

Remember to always love more, bitch less and be fabulously festive! XOXO, Cassie Nova