When the editorial calendar came around and I saw my name next to this blog topic, I must admit that I immediately got very nervous. “A ‘serious’ post about Christmas!?” That’s pretty bold of you, boss. As far as my writing style goes, I am known for two things: 1) long-windedness (my previous employer nicknamed me ‘Tolstoy’), and 2) sarcasm (mostly as a tool to get people to keep reading my long-winded documents). Consider this, then, my first attempt at broadening my horizons.
I will be the first to admit that in recent years, I have become a bit jaded when it comes to Christmas, as I think many people do when they reach “that certain age.” Christmas had lost a lot of its magic for me. It’s not that my childhood was exactly a mirror of some Dickensian ideal — or even “Charles Schultzian” if I can coin a phrase. No longer was the holiday season an extended vacation from school, eagerly anticipated visits from Gram and Papa, the promise of a cool new toy (or socks), a house full of the smells of homemade cookies and pies, or even a chance to put up the tree and decorate. Let’s face it, when you are the one lugging the boxes of decorations out of the attic and fighting to figure out how and why that string of lights mysteriously stopped working during the prior eleven months, you start to actually dread the chore.
This year, however, things are different. For my two-year-old daughter, this is her first Christmas. Okay, technically it’s her third, but let’s face it, for the first one she wasn’t aware of anything beyond the contents of her stomach … and diaper, and her second holiday was mostly devoid of trees and decorations that could be seen as potential toys (or food) for a toddler with a penchant for destruction and who was just learning to walk. This is the first year I’ve had a genuine, self-aware little person who is completely in awe at the sight of hundreds of blinking colored lights, learning new songs, and being introduced to Snoopy, Rudolph, and Santa for the first time. In that spirit, this year I have fully embraced the idea of vicariously experiencing Christmas for the first time through a fresh pair of eyes.
So far this year, we’ve already made our first visit downtown to see the lights. We’ve shared our first hot chocolate (she approves). We’ve watched a few of the Christmas specials that were already old when I was her age. We’re hoping to make our first snowman this year (fingers crossed). And, of course, there will be a few Christmas parties, Church activities, and the obligatory visit from Grandpa. Okay, so her grandfather shuns northern states during any month with an ‘R’ in the name and chooses instead to visit through the big-screen TV via Skype on Christmas morning, which makes me shudder to think how I may be interacting with my own grandkids in some future Christmas. Most-importantly, however, is that this will be the first time in six years that December 26th isn’t just another day at the office. This year, she gets a whole week of staying home and playing with Daddy while Mommy goes to work.
So, if anything, that is the lesson I wanted to share this year: It’s very easy to marginalize Christmas because you’re fed up with rampant commercialism, increasing secularism, global warming taking the snow away, the fact that store-bought pies will never be as good as Grandma’s were, or whatever it was that took that magic away from you. Christmas is many things to many people, but in the end, it is what we make it for ourselves. Rather than lamenting that things just aren’t the same as when we were young, we have an obligation every once in a while to step back and try to recapture something about this most-important of seasons to keep it special. So this year, take the time, think about what the season really means, and maybe start a few new traditions to get you anchored that spirit a little better.
On behalf of everyone here at Galvin, Merry Christmas to you and your families.