“Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl.
But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart … filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.”
Bess Streeter Aldrich
On Christmas Eve I am reminded of something I heard last week at a business luncheon.
Someone smiled as he tasted his Christmas dessert special and said “it tastes just like Christmas.” Smart ass me jumped in and said “like a fir tree?” and without hesitating he said “no, family anger and disappointment.”
<he later clarified it tasted like fresh peppermint and cool snow>
He was kidding … okay … half kidding.
Many of us harbor mixed feelings as the holidays proceed and Christmas looms. Its kind of like dysfunctional functional aspects of Thanksgiving family gatherings with the added challenge/angst of having to give gifts.
Me? I love Christmas … particularly Christmas Eve. And I do so despite the fact many of my childhood Christmas Eve memories … well … suck. They certainly were not devoid of gifts, but many times devoid of what makes family and Christmas special — that kind of warmth and comfort and anticipation and laughter that pepper dysfunctional functional family moments.
I imagine we were not the most loving family and therefore Christmas sometimes exacerbated that feeling.
But, you know what? In the end it really didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter because all the while I knew Christmas and Christmas Eve were special it was just I, or we, hadn’t figured out how to tap into it.
But I did, I have, and continue to do so now.
And that is why sometimes I feel sad around this time of the year. Not because of sadness borne of loneliness or years gone by or ‘lost moments in the past’, but rather because I see how easy it is to lose sight of the magic that makes up Christmas and the holidays.
And the magic can come from anywhere at any time.
It can even be found in the pangs of disappointment in a well-intended gift.
It can be found driving down the road where one house & its yard doesn’t have one inch NOT covered with some light or decoration and the next house with one simple candle lit in a front window.
It can be found in the gathering of friends & family and the empty spaces where a friend or family member used to be.
Christmas is joyful, sad, tears of joy … and regret, excitement & disappointments.
And Christmas Eve.
We build to that day and that moment and all that comes after is the fallout for all that came before.
Everyone is different. Some stumble into the day, some try and ignore the day, some anticipate the disappointment and some … well … some just anticipate and celebrate the bigness of the day.
That said. What I truly love about Christmas is that little things are big.
Little moments are huge around the holidays. Some people, and sometimes I wish I were one, can take little Christmas lights and make a huge bonfire of light suggesting that they are lighting the way for Santa to visit. It is almost like these people fear being overlooked by Santa and therefore go out of their way to show their appreciation for the spirit that makes up Santa and Christmas and the holidays so that their joy is not overlooked.
The world doesn’t have enough of these people.
Next. Christmas really is no different than anything in Life. When you are born or growing up you always wish you could get a manual telling you what you are supposed to do or what everyone does. No manual exists. You are stuck with learning whatever tradition your family may have and maybe some others as you crisscross lives.
Christmas creates some common ground for all of us. We all face the same dilemmas and the same questions and the same issues … one and all. We all stumble and bumble our way thru the holidays and Christmas – mostly with the best of intentions – yet ultimately more often overcome by the sheer amount of ups & downs that come from the rush up to the ‘big day’ and what happens then.
I will say that sometimes in all the anticipation, and anticipointment, we forget what Christmas is all about. That happens because it is a mixture of all we hate & love. Disaster & discomfort and emotional moments & joy.
Which brings me to this 2015 Christmas commercial about disaster, calamity and sharing. Hyperbole at its best: Sainsbury’s: “Mog’s Christmas Calamity”
Sainsbury’s Christmas commercial is a spectacular film featuring the family accident-prone cat Mog. I think we all watch this and laugh … well … a little painfully because disasters almost always seem to befall Christmas. It is kind of like the holiday version of how the printer in the office always breaks down when you need it most. And maybe that is why hyperbole works so well in Christmas commercials … the day itself takes on disproportionately huge dimensions into our lives, heads, hearts and wallets.
Just think about that on this day … this Christmas Eve. For when you strip away all the hyperbole, the gift giving angst, the anticipation … and Christmas and the holidays are laid bare … it is a beautiful simple thing.
We give gifts to each other for god’s sake.
Tiny ones & big ones … thoughts and things … it doesn’t matter.
What a gift.
The most spectacular gift humanity has given humans. The ability to give & share. Happy Christmas Eve.
“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”