Friday, November 30, 2007

Why I Love Christmas

I love Christmas. I do. I know, it's not hip to admit such a thing. But there it is.


10. Because last year, my cranky, 78 year old curmudgeon of a father decided he liked "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney. "What's that song ... 'simply, having a wonderful Christmastiiime'?" he sang to me, over the phone.

9. Because the idea that a culture would celebrate the concept of a little baby bringing salvation really is a lovely one. As we say often in our UU Christmas services -- every night that a child is born is a holy night. The manifestation of inherent worth and dignity. How incredible it would be if every child born were treated as if they, too, might be the messiah.

8. Because I get to be as corny as I want to be and -- at least now -- it thrills my kids. No, PB, you'll never see me in the pulpit with a holiday sweater, but I have one with a Christmas tree on it -- a handmedown from my mother -- and pish on any who say it's nerdy. I am a Christmas nerd and I shall let my decorated freak flag fly.

7. Because one Christmas Eve, peace really did break out ... even if it were just for a short time.

6. Because anyone can be Santa Claus. (Rest in peace, Larry Stewart. May your legacy continue.)

5. Because I love the reality of Christmas, not the Currier-and-Ives-Norman-Rockwell myth of Christmas. Which is why Robert Earl Keen's Merry Christmas from the Family is my all-time favorite Christmas song. Christmas is running to the store for a pack of diapers and discovering after dinner that we forgot to put out one of the side dishes and a kid preferring to play with the box the toy came in and parents cursing on Christmas Eve as we try to assemble the "easy assemble" toy that is assuredly not.

4. Because we make homemade tamales to eat on Christmas Eve. 2 years on up, everyone makes tamales. This will be LW's first year to spread masa.

3. Because a few nights before Christmas, we make the kids put on pajamas and go to bed, only to come running in 2 minutes later, madly swirling sleigh bells and shouting "Jingle Bell Sleigh Ride!!!", then bundling them into the car, stopping to pick up cocoa (if it's cold) or egg nog milkshakes (if it's warm) and fast food snacks and then driving all around, playing Christmas music and looking at lights. And every year, the kids will whine and grumble -- Why do we have to put on pajamas? Why do we have to go to bed? -- completely forgetting what happens every single year. They're not very bright, but they're mine and I love them.

2. Because my favorite 10 minutes of the entire year is coming. Christmas Eve night, after everything is assembled and filled, kids in bed, everything ready for the morrow, I go outside with our sleigh bells and ring them, just about three times. Just enough that maybe, maybe, some child dozing in their bed might hear them. And then I come inside, and sit on the couch with The Husband, and we sit there, with only the lights from the Christmas tree, and we bask in the moment and the anticipation.

1. Because Christmas comes around every year, no matter what. Somehow or other, it came just the same! And so even the years of horrible Christmases add to the memories, in that bittersweet way of making you appreciate the good ones. And we say, "We survived that." The year my Dad had just been diagnosed with cancer. The year after my brother committed suicide. And the good years. The times (2) my whole family went to the Bahamas together. And that wonderful, magical Christmas, 20 days before the awful dark day when Little Warrior was diagnosed with Wilms' Tumor. An incredible, innocent, Christmas with everyone -- everyone! -- from both sides of the family. Meemaw and Bubbe and Pops. Aunts and the one Uncle. Unheard of, a Christmas like that. And through those darkest days that would follow, I would look back and say, "Well ... we had a really wonderful Christmas."

Little Warrior has scans next Thursday. As I write this today, I have no idea -- will this be a really wonderful Christmas, or will it be a Dark Christmas? I can't know.

But still ... I love Christmas.


EmJay said...

Thank you. I love Christmas too, for all the same reasons you do. I was feeling a little guilty and not very UU about it, but not anymore I'm just going to embrace it. A UU friend/mom and I recently had a long converation about what we tell our UU kids about Christmas. It never even crossed my mind that my family would not celebrate Christmas, including Santa. Not for the commercial reasons, but for the spirit of giving, celebrating life and the even the magical in our lives reasons. In true Christmas geek form, I just spent my lunch hour running around to buy some paper to make this Even though it has Christian overtones to Advent that I don't fully understand or appreciate, I thought my kids would enjoy a month of celebrating the season. I love the Sleigh Ride night, I'm thinking it will be a new family tradition for us as well.

ogre said...

As a fan of the Christmas Truce, I'd point you to John McCutcheon's "Christmas in the Trenches" (his site's at ) and a lovely picture book of the event that he collaborated on. The song... well, I've heard it now for 20 years--it put me in tears when I first heard it, live, and usually still does, live or CD.

Nancy said...

Why am I crying?

Beautiful, as always.

I'm off to find an eggnog milkshake. Dangit, woman, you always make me hungry.

Boobless Brigade Master said...

While I'm still not too keen on Christmas...I love seeing it through the eyes of people like you.
LW will most definitely be in my thoughts and lot's of great, powerful vibes are already headed in her direction.
I look forward to reading the good results in the coming post:)

Terri Dennehy Pahucki said...

Beautiful post. It is nice to read a positive reflection about Christmas. I've read too many cynical ones lately...It's such a great time to celebrate life, light, and joy. It doesn't matter what others have made of it; it's what we make of it ourselves. Thanks for this.