The season’s gift…

Sometimes, if we pay attention, we can learn more about ourselves by watching our likes and our dislikes than we can through all the torturous hours spent in personal inventory and contemplation.

I’m talking about Christmas gifts.  Yes, Christmas gifts.

I have rules about Christmas gifts.  I finish my shopping no later than the first week of December, always.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t shop after that date, but I want to know that the important, core gifts for people who really matter are acquired and wrapped by that date.  Anything else I see after that or purchase is, well, serendipity.  And, oh yes, I don’t like malls.   I avoid them most of the year, but especially at this season.  Whenever I can, I shop locally in my own neighborhood, but most of my shopping occurs online.

I do have a confession to make, however.  During this season, when looking for some mindless television to run in the background while I am, say, assembling a book shelf or doing some other physical task, my usual choice is the shopping channel QVC.  Yes, I know, you are shocked.  But I like the mindless banter when I’m doing certain tasks, and I get tired of the seriousness of NPR.   And there is just nothing more hilarious than watching that big guy David do a cooking show and stand there, stuffing white chocolate peppermint bark into his mouth like there was no tomorrow. Just too funny.

But in the frame of mind I find myself in this year, I just can’t let things mindlessly chatter around me without analysis, it seems.  I was cooling my heels for a few minutes, waiting for someone to finish something, and I switched over to the OTHER shopping channel, HSN,  and was temporarily mesmerized by the current offering, beautiful fake-gem jewelry created by a designer named Jean Dousset.  Now, I was entranced by the beauty and the quality of the emerald necklace on display, but what struck me most was — I didn’t want it.

Let me step back a moment.  You see, in the years that I doggedly pursued a career in the world of opera, I spent hours and hours of my life carefully trying to craft the perfect “diva” image — the perfect grand dress for the recital, the perfect shoes, the perfect audition outfit, the perfect hair, and most of all, the perfect jewelry for EACH outfit.  If I had discovered Monsieur Dousset’s line of beautiful ABSOLUTE fakes during that time, I would have ordered every item in the show or begged the person who gives me such wonderful Christmas gifts each year to buy out the show FOR me.   But there it sparkled, and I didn’t want it.

You see, there is no such pressure on an oratorio and recital singer.  Frankly, in most cases, my Sunday best serves me just fine.   Perhaps a simple black dress for some evenings, but frankly a jewel such as this would be out of place in my world now…even at the wonderful low price of $99 with free shipping.

Sure, I still could have purchased it…but I don’t like to buy things that I don’t need.  And the fact that I didn’t need it, or want it, only confirmed for me so many of the changes that I have felt this fall and have begun to say out loud this Christmas season:  there is no place for the pursuit of opera in my life now.

So, I must thank you Monsieur Dousset and HSN — while you may have not made any money from me this holiday season, you did give me, without knowing it, a mos precious gift of the season. I thank you.

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