As I write this piece, Christmas music is playing in the background. For those of you who are now questioning my authority to be playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving has even arrived, will be quite upset to know that I started it this year on November 1st, literally the first day I could find a station putting it out there. And…..I am not ashamed!
There is no better season than Christmas in my book. We have just come off a very mean spirited election season, plenty of blame on both sides. I for one am desperate for some cheer and Christmas brings that to me each and every year. It is a chance to be reminded that people matter more than things. It is a season for giving and for receiving and the best gift one can give or get is the sense that we can all, for at least a couple of months, take the time to care for each other and to spread a bit of joy even where there is little to be found. It is a season of hope buoyed by the Spirit that lives more generously in its traditions. Christmas is a chance for a reset.
During Christmas, the memories of my childhood come floating back. The first Christmas I have memories of happened when I was maybe six or seven years old, and yet all these years later, lots of years later, they are still vivid. I can recall getting my Christmas bag of peanuts and carrots as we left church Christmas Eve, a simple reward for the Christmas pageant we had just pulled off in angelic perfection despite a year of less than angelic behavior. Of getting dad to hurry us all home to open the presents beneath the tree. Of finding that tin tab garage set complete with its lever for the car elevator. I am sure the five Christmases that came before were also full of traditions, but memories of them unfortunately weren’t recorded in my childhood brain. When I think about my first Christmas memories, I also recall the first Christmas celebrated with my wife in our tiny little house on Ring Street. That first Christmas it was just Deb and I and Huckleby, our cat. Then I think of the first Christmas for each of my daughters. I know it’s just a fact of life that they too will have no memories of that first one or much of any before they were old enough to start the act of remembering. I will promise myself to ask them to share their first memory of Christmas and I suspect it won’t match mine. But then it is their memory to recall in the way it comes back to them. We all have memories of our Christmases, and at this time of year we should take time to recall the best of them and then let them inspire us to spread the good cheer of Christmas wherever the opportunity presents itself.
Christmas music sets the tone for me. It lifts my spirits, renews my faith in mankind’s ability to care for each other, and rekindles those traditions my family share, the ones we have created, and the ones we will create. This Friday, in the rain, snow, sleet, or I hope, sunshine, you will find my family cutting our traditional tree(s). I will string indoor and outdoor lights that will cut out shortly after I plug in the last strand. My wife and I will set aside enough time to watch as many Christmas movies as possible. Christmas eve, I will sing my favorite Christmas carols and then return home to wait for the arrival of my two grandchildren. I will wait till they are fast asleep and then creep down the hall to place the Santa gifts beneath the tree. And then, Christmas morning I will sit back and watch the chaos erupt as the presents are exchanged and opened with wrapping paper discarded and covering the room like a blanket of Christmas morning snow. I will soak in each and everyone of these traditions throughout the season, and if I am lucky, maybe another great story will emerge,
This Christmas season take a pledge to make it the best one yet. Reach out to family and friends and even, and maybe especially, to a stranger. The season of Christmas is a reminder to share; share joy and peace and self. My Christmas music has been playing since November 1st and will continue until someone convinces me the season is over. But I will tell you, I won’t be convinced easily.
So if you haven’t yet turned on the music, stop being the grinch, find a Christmas station, and go Rock Around the Christmas Tree. Brenda Lee is waiting to get you started.
(For additional reading, check out “Lost and Found”: https://kenismsblog.com/?s=Lost+and+Foundand “Can we at least drive it around the block”: https://kenismsblog.com/?s=Can+we+at+least+drive+it+around+the+block)