It’s December 24th, and all over the Pacific Northwest kids are experiencing the only white Christmas they may see in a lifetime. My own snow and ice memories are something I deeply treasure, and I can’t help but wax romantic about this new generation of kids storing up similar memories without even being aware of it. When they’re in their 20s, or 40s, or 60s they’ll look back on this Christmas, and it will be the yardstick against which all others are measured. To them, it won’t matter that it was the year they couldn’t get to the store for a turkey, or that uncle Jim was stuck at the airport. To them, it will be the year that there was more than a foot of snow on the ground when they woke up Christmas morning. The year they went sledding every day of winter break.
I have to say I’m siding more with the kids than with the grumpy grownups. My Christmas Eve plans have been postponed, and that’s both weird and disappointing, but on the bright side, it stretches the Christmas season out for another few days. And I plan to enjoy every minute of it.
Yesterday morning I woke up feeling snug and warm in my bed, knowing there was snow outside and that I still had three days of Christmas left. I was so content to lie there listening to carols in the darkness. Even though I’ve had the radio tuned to 103.3 FM, the all-Christmas-all-the-time station since the day after Thanksgiving, there are some carols that continue grip me, no matter how many times I’ve heard them. That instrumental version of Sleigh Bells, Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Cannon and Christmas Eve in Sarajevo, Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives.
I love Christmas. The lights, the hype, the music—all of it. I don’t even mind the commercialism (usually) because so much of what we consider Christmas tradition in this country stems from marketing and political agenda. Rudolph was the result of a promotional gimmick by Montgomery Ward. Our current image of Santa, though not invented for advertising, was popularized by various corporations, including Coca Cola. FDR declared the fourth Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving, rather than the last, in order to extend the Christmas shopping season. And our tradition of Christmas being a celebration of family and community was created largely by Charles Dickens and Washington Irving to fill a cultural need. The fact is, Christmas in the 21st century is a mutt. (You can visit the History Channel or Wikipedia for confirmation and further info.)
The thing I love most about Christmas is the sense of community. The idea that for a few short days in December we all want to believe in peace on earth. I grew up in a family that didn’t connect on an emotional level, and went to school with people who mostly bullied or ignored me, so I spent my formative years lacking a place to belong. Now, I find myself constantly seeking out community. Christmas is one time of year when I feel I’m part of the global family.
To all of you, however you celebrate, I wish you happiness and peace this holiday season.