I love Christmas. No, more than that. I believe in Christmas.
What makes someone a Christmas person and another person, not? I don't know. Perhaps it is something just in you, like whether you're a cat or a dog person.
Nature, nurture. Like most things, you can point to definitive reasons why someone who is not a Christmas person is not ... like one of my friends, for whom Christmas was a time of more abuse, a scary uncle to stay away from. But then there are those who have all the reason in the world to turn away from the holiday, but instead embrace it. And those who had idyllic Christmastimes, but it just never struck a chord. They'd rather be off on a warm beach, drinking a Mai Tai.
I enjoy the story of a very special child being born in rude circumstances ... in fact, I was marveling on that this week, the choice to have Him born poor. The kings, the shepherds -- lovely.
But it is not the center of my celebration.
I guess, if I had to put a word to it, it'd be that over-used, overworked, but still plugging away word, Love. Even if there were no mention of Jesus, Christmas would still be the holiday I would celebrate. Because it's not a celebration of the solstice to me, it's a celebration of love in its many forms.
The holiday of Christmas, even without a virgin birth, is filled with meaning and history. Yes, there's traffic and grumpy people, but there are also so many people wanting to reach out, to show love to their families, their friends, and to complete strangers. They take a gift list off the mall tree to buy a little girl they've never met a Barbie and a Hannah Montana tshirt. They are more generous with their charity dollars. They sing carols at the old folks' home, they dish up soup at a shelter, they do art projects at a children's hospital. They smile at others in line. In their hearts, they really do want everyone to be happy on Christmas.
The eternal lament is, why can't they be that way all year? Well, as someone once said, I am thankful that thorns have roses.
The stories of Christmas fill my heart, fiction and non. The Christmas ceasefire. Della and Jim. Scrooge.
Oh, Scrooge! Scrooge, I love him so, because he embodies my deepest, hopeful-est belief in personal transformation. That one can wake up, literally and figuratively, and decide to be different. And be "as good as his word."
I could write a book (actually, I am, but that's another story for another time) on Santa. I do have children, but even if I didn't, I would still believe in Santa Claus. When it gets to that scene in Elf where everyone starts singing, "... I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town!" I just tear up, same as I do in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street where people all across New York hang out signs saying, "I Believe."
... just as I do every Christmas Eve, when we pull up NoradSanta.com to track Santa's progress around the globe. Because just as Scrooge symbolizes the possibility of transformation for me, NoradSanta symbolizes all the love and work that goes into Santa.
You know the story, right? A simple misprint in 1955, and all these years later, they still do all this work to bring information to children about Santa's journey.
On Christmas Eve, children all around the world get on NoradSanta.com, click on their language, and watch Santa's trip.
On Christmas Eve, people all over the world conspire to bring magic to children.
I think I may feel more strongly about what Santa does for adults than I do even his magical effects on children. Santa is the penultimate example of non-reciprocal, anonymous giving. (My vocab peeps out there, yes, I mean the correct definition of penultimate, one shy of ultimate. I think that the ultimate is doing all that for someone you don't know.)
Parents who would never let their children see them giving such bounty -- goodness, such largess, it's unseemly! -- glow with love as their children exclaim over the gifts from Santa. Willingly, they watch as Santa takes the credit for the bicycle, as they get kisses later for the board game.
Santa is magic, both for being so inaccessible and for being completely accessible. Anyone with the spirit to do so can be Santa. A present left on an elderly neighbor's front porch, a gift card in the mail ... signed, Love, Santa. What power!
I do not seek to convert nor take away from anyone their feelings about Christmas. To those on the beach, Mele Kalikimaka, Dudes. To those for whom Christmas is a deeply religious holiday, a time of spiritual reflection, Good Holy-days to you, and may the blessings of the Christ child be in your heart. My friends round the solstice fire, I'll probably join you as we call the quarters.
But then, I will get back to my house and my family, to bake more cookies, wrap more presents, watch more Christmas shows, and play Christmas songs til my fingers are puffy and sore.
Comes the time for Christmas
And as you raise your Yuletide flask
There's like this feeling that you carry
As if from every Christmas past
It's as if each year it grows
It's like you feel it in your toes
And on and on your carol goes
Harvesting love among your woes
--Christmas, Blues Traveler