“Christmas” elicits different emotional responses from different people. Some might even go so far as to say that Christmas is controversial - there are indeed many who would go so far as to deem it politically incorrect to wish one a “Merry Christmas”, just because they feel the Christian origins of the holiday are exclusive of, even insensitive to, those who come from other cultures and/or belief systems.
What is it, Christmas, after all, rather than a falsified tribute to religious history wrapped in the completely unrelated trappings of a free-for-all of commerce and consumerism, accessorized by the gateway Nordic mythology of a jolly, obese icon of bribery and creepy judgement (he sees you when you’re sleeping!), whose happily enslaved child-like workforce forges, builds and assembles tirelessly so that all good children may inherit physical rewards for their obedience?
Well, that’s a bit of a cynical interpretation – and to that interpretation, bah, humbug, I say! Let me share why Christmas, to me, and despite my lack of Christian pedigree or piety, makes my heart grow 3 sizes these days.
The Spirit of Giving
Let’s face it, Christmas shopping is a pain in the hohohos, and can be stressful too, if you let it. But I can’t deny the benefits of taking some time each year to really think about, and to ask, if need be, what a loved one wants, needs, could benefit from, would be made happy by. And to actually take the time to go out (on the web if possible) and shell out a few bucks to make it happen. Obligatory giving brought on by societal pressure does actually remind me of the nice, satisfied, happy feeling that giving brings. Perhaps that can even carry forward to the months ahead.
A Warm Hearth
In the normal part of the Earth, i.e. the northern hemisphere, Christmas comes in the early days of the cold winter months (sorry my Aussie & Kiwi friends, just kidding okay?). This makes it the perfect time to gather indoors with your closest loved ones, in front of a fire, in the kitchen while hearty warming meals are cooked, sipping a bit of mulled wine (get a good recipe here!)
My favorite Carols
While technically my favorite Carol is my mom (and she makes me happy too – hi Mom!), the carols I’m referring to are of course the Christmas variety. As long as we are well into December when I start hearing them, they really set the mood and light me up with warm and fuzzy feelings about the holidays, warmth, kindness and family time.
The Genuine Glee of a Child
If you haven’t experienced the genuine surprise and glee on the face of a child who has just opened up a gift that represents a wish unexpectedly fulfilled, well…I highly recommend it. Better than spiced rum and eggnog. That inncent sense of wonder and belief shows us what we’re all striving to hang onto, and we want it to last for them as long as possible.
This speaks for itself. For many Americans, this has been an ongoing them for a month by this point, having kicked off at Thanksgiving and, well, why start the diet when Christmas is right around the corner? That’s exactly what New Year’s Resolutions are made for! What are your fave Christmas eats? Comment below, we may even feel generous and send out a treat!
Finally, and this is a plea as much as it is a report, something about this holiday just seems to bring out the soft, tender morsel of our heart to share with those we meet. When I encounter someone doing something annoying or ignorant, my normal reaction of indignance and, sometimes, confrontation, seems to be magically interrupted and supplanted by a more mellow, empathetic feeling. Perhaps this person had a very bad day. Perhaps they are suffering. Perhaps my kindness in this moment will in turn cause a change of heart for them. And so I tend to forgive and forget, to defer, to help, to offer, more freely during this time. This, if it is real and not a figment of my wishful imagination, is the best part of Christmas. Can we seriously all just have a few days, during which we truly feel love and kindness even for those we normally disagree with vehemently? Thank you, sincerely, and whether you celebrate it or not, Merry Christmas – may your homebody holidays be cheerful and bright!