I love Christmas. This is probably not a shocking admission. Heck, you probably love Christmas too. There are people who, for various reasons, do not like Christmas. They are a minority.
My very absolute favorite part of Christmas is the Christmas music. Music is intensely evocative to me and holds the flavor of a moment even if I listen to it often. In this case, Roger Whittaker’s Christmas Album (specifically Darcy the Dragon) transports me magically back to a golden stage of childhood when the trees were 12 feet tall (no really), the packages under the tree held unutterable delights, we made Christmas cookies, and the weather cooperated and provided snow. There’s a flurry of light and darkness, sweet scents and spicy, excitement and peace all wrapped up into a gift of memory.
When I turn on the Christmas music, it transports my daily passage of life into a memory to be created, and reminds me that we are in the special time, the time apart.
Tonight I will bring out the Advent calendar that I bought last year to help Grey count down the days. In the past twelve months he’s learned about seasons, months, holidays and repetitions. Of course, he still doesn’t QUITE understand how it all works, but I think the count-down will be very meaningful to him.
This weekend, we will go get our tree and decorate. (I would have done it this weekend, but I was completely exhausted from keeping Thane out of trouble in our normal, reasonably childproofed house. Add in a Christmas tree, and he might never get out of his high chair again.) Grey will be feverish with delight, and with the candy canes, hot cocoa and Christmas cookies I plan to ply him with. The UPS guy will renew his “nightly stop” status. I’ve already begun my Christmas cards, and if all goes really well they might get mailed out as early as next week. (Really, really well. OK, probably the week after.) I love the Christmas cards because I sit and I really think about the person I know and love at the other end. It’s like a prayer, or meditation of love to write the cards. (By the way, Grey has started noticing that he doesn’t get any mail. If any of you are planning on sending us a card, Grey would LOVE it if the card was addressed to him!)
I also save up my “sick time” each year — usually nearly a week. If no one gets sick (and we’re disgustingly healthy) then I take a day a week off for the month of December. So tomorrow I am taking off. No real plans, but to enjoy myself and the season.
And of course the Christmas tableau! I won’t be playing the part of Mary this year, and I do not have a baby to offer up as the Christ child (both my sons — October babies — served in that role). But I’ll play my trumpet and there will be light and darkness and children and songs.
The older I get, the less the stuff of Christmas matters. I get so much joy out of buying presents for the small people in my life, I really don’t covet much for myself anymore. (In fact, for Christmas this year I’m requesting donations to Path International.) I’m sure my 4 year old son doesn’t feel that way. I didn’t at four, or fourteen for that matter.
Perhaps the greatest gift of Christmas with children is wondering how this will all play out in their minds and memories. I remember the cardboard fireplace my parents put up the year I was four. I remember the cabbage patch play set I got the year my brother was born. There are so many glimmering, golden memories of anticipation and delight. I can only hope that my sons’ memories are as full of Christmas goodness when they set about celebrating with their own children some day.