Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas liberation

Charles Dickens knew it. So did Charlie Brown, and now, proudly, gratefully and publicly, I do too. Christmas is not a complete experience without tasting, acknowledging and accepting its inextricable sadness. This is so damn freeing that I'm feeling the Christmas spirit for the first time in years. I'm humming those wistful notes from Greg Lake's "I Believe in Father Christmas," and I can remember the absolute joyous magic of a lit up Christmas tree and awestruck knowledge that Santa Claus was coming if I'd been good enough.

I remember the childhood tenderness evoked by the thought of Baby Jesus in the manger. When I was older, it was the courage of Mary that struck a true humility in me as a young mother. I still shake my head at the faith it must have taken to believe that by following a star one would find a king. I can't help but smile when I think about how I finally understood that the angels weren't telling the shepherds not to feel afraid because they were seeing angels, but they no longer needed to fear anything.

Christmas is work now. It's figuring out how to stretch a budget that already feels like a worn out rubber band. It's trying to find the time to shop and the patience to avoid road rage after being stuck at one red light through five color changes because traffic is so heavy. It's helping people find party dresses knowing that I'll be going home alone to a silent house. I look around and see rudeness, greed and ego inflated entitlement. I look a little farther and see need so overwhelming that I feel like a spoiled brat for thinking I have problems. It's feeling so drained when I get to a church service that I'm emotionally numb.

As I've aged, my tastes have changed. When I was a kid, I loved the creaminess of milk chocolate, but now I savor dark chocolate with its bitter edge. Similarly, I can't settle for a simple, holly, jolly Christmas. It takes too much denial on my part, and I feel like I disrespect its intricacy when I settle for a superficial, happy holiday face. I'll enjoy the tinsel and twinkling lights. I'll wish you a Merry Christmas and mean it, but I'll also wipe tears as I wrap the few presents I'm giving and remember different days. Christmas is complex magic. It's beauty, awe, joy, wonder, innocence, generosity, and it's tackiness, regret, pain, wrenching loss and deep sadness. Hallelujah! I get to experience it all.

8 Comments:

Blogger Lisa :-] said...

This is lovely, Cynthia, and very wise.

This year, unfortunately, it seems I'm leaning more toward seeing the tackiness, regret and pain.

Next year will be better...

December 19, 2010 10:24 AM  
Blogger Charlene ♥ SC said...

It seems the depression seeps in before the actual holiday and leaves after - the opposite from the common 'after Christmas blues' that most have.

December 19, 2010 11:36 AM  
Blogger Wanda said...

Cynthia, I don't know you but what you wrote was is in my heart and I could not express. I can't thank you enough for putting it into words.

December 20, 2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger Nelle said...

If I had read this just two years ago I would not have understood but I do now. Christmas is a time when you have sadness that it seems so magnified. The commercials on tv of wealthy people giving expensive new cars as gifts is too much for me. I had to plan and scheme for what I purchased and then when recipients didn't act like they even liked it I wanted to scream. Mostly, I missed my grandmother. I was under the weather and we stayed home Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

January 09, 2011 8:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Where are you?

I know you are not the type to just...write anything, but I wish you would.

I miss you...

:-]

January 19, 2011 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Sea Breeze said...

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

February 21, 2011 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Sonu G said...

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home.

February 21, 2011 11:51 AM  
Blogger david a holgate said...

Looking forward to your next thoughtful post.

February 26, 2011 5:19 PM  

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