Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Hush

This is the time of year for retrospect. There’s something about Christmas that makes me take a step back from the rush of life and ponder where I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going so I can remember what’s important and slow down to better enjoy it.

It’s a bit distracting when I see the frenzy Christmas stirs up. I can’t help but think how utterly ridiculous people act around the holidays. The season has become notorious for the Rush. People forget Christmas isn’t about presents or Santa Claus. Even as a kid, I knew that wasn’t the meaning of Christmas. I fear the true meaning is disappearing. Will we allow our generation to forget it so the next goes on without knowing?

What does Christmas mean? Different things for different people. For me, above all it’s about family. It’s about letting the people you love know you’re there—hence, Christmas cards—especially those you rarely see. It’s about giving and sharing love—hence, Christmas presents.

Every year my goal for Christmastime is to look around and observe what’s happened beyond my office chair in the past twelve months. What steps have mankind taken forward? How far have we fallen back?

Christmas songs speak of snowmen and sleigh bells, chestnuts and mistletoe. As it hasn’t snowed on my slice of the Gulf Coast in ten years, I don’t think of snow or sleighs when I think of Christmas. I don’t think of chestnuts or mistletoe. I think of the woodsy scent of Christmas trees. I think of the cheery blaze of twinkle lights. I think of the peppermint-y taste of candy canes.

I think of Christmas’ past. Surprisingly, it’s not the presents I recall. It’s the time of spent with family. The reunions at my grandparents’ houses go back as far as I can remember. I treasure these occasions and could fill a book with the reasons why.

I wish more people saw Christmas this way. I wish people could remember it’s not about breaking MasterCard credit limits. It’s not about getting the best parking spot. And it’s not about how many presents the kiddies have under the tree come Christmas morning. Despite what the television says—despite the fact that some retail outlets put their Christmas decorations up the day after Halloween—Christmas is about remembering to care and nurture. Christmas is about spreading the love.

One night this week past I looked up at the night sky and saw little tufts of clouds. The way they were bunched together like cotton balls rolling into the distance, it might've been an abandoned snowy hillside. Even if I don’t see snow this year, the spirit of Christmas lives within me. Moments like that—standing under that serene blanket and watching the stars glisten through it just like twinkle lights—help me remember exactly what Christmas is all about.

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