I am a Christmas kind of person. I love the lights, and the carols, and the tree and the family gatherings. I love Christmas dinner, midnight mass, and listening to someone read “A Christmas Carol” aloud by a crackling fire. Christmas, for me, is not about the birth of Jesus., although I am also at my most spiritual on Christmas Eve, and I page through the Bible in the vague hopes of finding Him there. Most of our Christmas traditions come from the Celtic Yuletide. Whether we are Christian or not, I think it is meet and right to celebrate and bring warmth and light to these coldest and darkest of months.
I am a traditional kind of person. Traditions and rituals bring predictability and a feeling of safety to my life. If I am “uncertainty intolerant”, then I am consequently a certainty-phile. I love to do the same things, in the same order, at the same time as always. I know this sounds boring, but to me it is beautiful. Rituals makes things seem special. A Monday night dinner thrown together out of whatever is close to expiring in the refrigerator that day has very little charm or appeal to any one. But a Christmas dinner is a truly special thing, and the smell of gravy simmering on the stove will whisk many people back to the excitement of their childhoods.
I find sanctuary in Christmas. The same songs, the same books, the same tv movies that brought me that flood of magical joy when I was a child. I no longer find excitement in Christmas. I don’t bounce around, wondering what Santa will bring me. I am grateful for the gifts I receive, but not overjoyed. The magic has gone. But the sense of family, and peace, and contentment remains. By closing my eyes while Karen Carpenter sings “Sleigh Ride”, I can hear the echoes of magic past. By picking up Dickens, and reading the words,
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.
…I feel a warm trickle of familiar contentment. It is like listening to a lullabye your mother once used to sing over your crib at night. These warm, safe, familiar things.When I read that
He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.
joy bubbles in my chest, where my laughter is stored. I am filled with faith in humanity, and in my self. I feel healed and cleansed, and ready to become a better person. Because here, in the sanctuary of Christmas, I am safe from the uncertainty of the world. The lights on all the houses invite me out into the world, with the promise of lighting my way home.
Scrooge was a man who learned to keep Christmas the whole year round.
May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!