I'm not sure I know anyone else in the world who "honors Christmas in her heart and tries to keep it all year" as well as my friend Macia. She should be given honorary elf status wherever that magical place is that elves live. Really, she sprinkles glitter and fairy dust everywhere she goes (and I'm so glad she's captured my brother's heart, too!) The next two posts are written from her heart about the magical, beautiful, sacred season of Christmas.
Prepare yourself to fall under her spell...
Each year I go through the same dilemma. I bide my time, secretly dreaming about crackling fires, snow covered lawns, heaps of decorations and twinkling lights. I slyly listen to Christmas music all year long, enduring eye rolls and judgments from the steadfast “we-can’t-celebrate-until-the-day-after-Thanksgiving” types.
Despite all that, I’m not the only one who is just waiting for Black Friday when the diehards finally catch up and jump on the merriment bandwagon. Stores roll out their holiday wonderment earlier each year. And while the cynics see this as unbridled commercialism and greed, a chance to start preying on the anticipatory glee of the childlike shoppers like me, a part of me wants to see this as recognition that things are simply better at Christmastime.
Therefore, we’d like to start that “better” part of the year as soon as possible.
And finally, in the words of the Grinch, “Tomorrow is Christmas—it’s Practically HERE!!!!!” And so, in honor of the truly most wonderful time of the year, I’ve put together a Top 12 Reasons I Love the Season. It’s like the 12 Days of Christmas, only better, because let’s face it, we’d all be pretty upset if we got a partridge in a pear tree on Christmas.
12. “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”If you’ve never read this editorial, do so right now. Read it here. We’ll wait for you.
I absolutely love the guts of this man to respond to this little girl’s question. He sensed her deeper question when she perhaps didn’t even know what she was really asking. She was asking about the importance and existence of childlike faith, the question of whether belief in goodness made her naïve, whether one could know something in your heart without any scientific facts and not be foolish.
And thankfully, he got the right answer. “Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.”
This song says it all.
This song says it all.
I’m not even talking about “universal” traditions. I love that at Christmas, traditions are upheld and they are meaningful. They aren’t stupid. They aren’t rote. They aren’t boring. To label a Christmas tradition, no matter what it is, as humdrum or burdensome would negate the heart of Christmas. The sense that this season is important enough to warrant “out of the ordinary” behavior.Finish this sentence: In my family, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without _________________. For me, it’s Chinese food on Christmas Eve, a tradition that started after a long day at church and the early closing time of the American food service industry. It also wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas Rolls, which are really just sugar coated marshmallows baked inside of crescent rolls. Are either of these things particularly festive? Do they point to the birth of the Savior? No. But traditions tell us that certain things, no matter how trivial they might seem, are never going to change. Even if everything comes crashing down around us, if we don’t have the money for gifts, or a great big Christmas tree, we’ll always have Chinese food. And of course, we’ll always have Jesus, and he’s not trivial at all.
(We’re in good company with the Chinese food thing)
On the subject of food, let’s talk about
10. Christmas Cookies!
Let’s face it. You could bake cut-outs, kolatchis, snowballs, thumbprints, peppermint cookies and all those other holiday goodies at other times in the year, but they just wouldn’t taste as good. I think it’s the holiday goodness, the Christmas magic that is the secret ingredient that makes them so tasty. And Christmas cookies are the most laborious of all. No plain old chocolate chip cookies here. Oh no. We’re busting out all the cookie cutters, making dough that needs to freeze, gathering armloads of sprinkles and dedicating whole days to the kitchen. And why? For calories we don’t need, and cookies that will be consumed long before Christmas even gets here! But these are important. They remind us to go out of our way for others, for our families, for our neighbors. And maybe, we could go a little out of our way for the Savior that went way out of his way.
No decoration is too gaudy, too broken, to silly to put out. I love them all. Whether it’s homemade decorations that are covered with so much hot glue and glitter that they’re barely recognizable, or the racially insensitive nativity set, or the chipped glass angel, or light up ornaments that no longer light up—there is nothing that I won’t take out of the box and proudly display.
I love the garland, the tinsel, the singing and dancing decorations, and they are an explosion of love and joy, of childlike wonderment, a reflection of self-consciousness-less. But no decoration evokes more wonder than a gleaming star over a humble nativity.
“ And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”
8. The way that Christmas decorations inconvenience our normal routine.
I don’t know if this is true at your house, but Christmas decorations really hamper our business as usual. Our seasonal summer room becomes both a walk-in cooler and a space to hide all of our regular “decorations.” Our rearranging flowchart would go something like this…put the armchair in the dining room so that we can move the front table to make room for the tree which is so big that we have to move the couch about a foot and move the rocking chair and various lamps up to my parents’ bedroom which is already cluttered with all the wrapped presents. Whew!
Trying to get a tissue? Look out for those low-hanging decorative towels. Want to dry your hands? Not on THOSE towels!!! As you walk from room to room, look out for mistletoe, garland and icicle decorations.
What would possess Americans, who are famous for not wanting to be inconvenienced, to do this all for some cheap decorations?
Maybe it’s easier to deal with the minor inconveniences when we remember a pregnant Mary riding on a donkey, Joseph helping to deliver a baby in a freezing stable. Or when we remember the great inconvenience it was to leave the glory, warmth and splendor of Heaven to lay in a straw filled trough for people who were too busy celebrating their own holiday to even notice. Which leads us to…
7. The Invasion of the Sacred
If you reread the last paragraph, you will have the most obvious, and most important implication of the invasion of the Sacred. And because of this momentous and glorious interruption, we see the sacred world and themes invading into the hustle and bustle, the presents and all the noise, noise, noise, noise of Christmas. A big, wooden manger graces the front square of my town at Christmas. Radio stations that usually blare poorly edited versions of trashy hip-hop songs suddenly proclaim Joy to the world, the Lord is come. TV networks interrupt their sexually questionable, agenda-ed programming to let Linus read from the Bible and tell everyone “That’s what Christmas is all about.” Ordinary people use Latin phrases and go to see Handel’s Messiah, perhaps the longest all-Biblical entertainment, excepting The Ten Commandments.Christmas reminds me that the sacred is never too far or too quiet. It is always there if I am willing to look and listen.
to be continued....