It’s five days before Christmas and I’m home with the day’s tasks before me: finding a sirloin roast (Marv’s Meats) and wrapping gifts (where did I put that one for Sam?).
There’s a joke that runs around each year, something about Christmas only happening because of women. As if our hustle and bustle make it so. As if the perpetrators don’t know the story of Christmas: it came, just the same.
They also don’t know my dearly beloved. My husband suffers through the long preliminaries, only to get fully in the spirit in the final few days, but get into it, he does. He loves to make spritz cookies. He likes shopping at Pier One. It was my son who planned a go-together gift for his dad with my youngest. And decided to bring his new significant other to meet us on Christmas Eve Eve.
So, it’s not about gender and we need to stop joking that it is. Maybe your partner – of any gender – wouldn’t do it the way you prefer, but if you’re celebrating, you’ve both got some vision of what makes it special, holy, and worthy of remembrance.
About that vision. This week, a colleague announced at the lunch table, “I hate Christmas.” He’s from another country, which, in and of itself, doesn’t factor so much, except he has none of the fond childhood memories: favorite foods, particularly. But also the decorating season was short. And it doesn’t sound as if his family was much into the spirit, either.
As a child, I can vividly recall the wonder. It started every year with the Sears toy catalog. My brother and I would play a game: pick a present from every page. The letter addressed to Santa would miraculously find its way. The elementary choir concert brought in all the families, kids dressed in red and green and white. At the church pageant, lines and cues might be missed, but the reading of the Gospels rang out. The wonder of the star was proclaimed.
Later, in our own homes and in our own ways, we sought to create that wonder. For Bill, his memories are of receiving a boost of holiday cash from his parents that always smoothed over the financial rough spots. He recreates this again and again for his own children, placing envelopes in the tree boughs, included with a note from dad that speaks of pride and love. For myself, baking cookies, decorating to the nines, and planning special menus is repeated time and again for my loved ones.
Whatever religion you celebrate, whatever way you bring tradition into your home, these are the ties that bind. You illustrate caring in remembering, in repeating, in sharing. When it would be so very much easier to pull the blankets up over your head and ignore it all, bringing yourself and your family into the light is a great, good gift.
I believe our culture would like to demolish this spirit of goodwill. If evil can get us to criticize, to give up, to bend down to petty daily demands and to profess we have no time to give, it wins. To show love, in the ways of celebration and the joyous marking of time passed, is the purpose. To do this again and again centers us in a way that very little else will.
Even the smallest ways are significant. Light a candle. Tell a story. Watch the clock strike twelve and press a kiss. Express love in your own way. Again, and again, and again.
Inset: Gfycat [https://goo.gl/images/NfJpUX] (Usually, I would completely avoid a misspelling – in this case, that Christmas isn’t capitalized – but I wanted to have the .gif.)
Cover photo: Faith Cumberland Presbyterian Church [https://goo.gl/images/uqX1b3]