A friend of mine hates Christmas. She openly admits to being a “Scrooge”.
(As a side note, doesn’t it seem sad that Ebenezer Scrooge, who was as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as any man in the good old world, is remembered for his previous miserly state?)
While I respect her grinchiness and have chosen not to berate her with “What’s WRONG with you?”s, I find such a position baffling.
I am such a Christmas-lover. If it were up to me, we would keep festive lights and traditional songs on the radio all year long. I love the cold weather. I love the snow. I love listening to Karen Carpenter sing Ave Maria. I love listening to Eric Cartman sing Oh Holy Night. I love the way the cold, barren city lights up and warms the night with a million twinkling lights. I hate LED Christmas lights, which don’t twinkle and don’t even seem to cast any light. They make the night look darker.
Christmas creates the illusion of a caring and generous universe. It fills me with goodwill for mankind and a faith in others which I can’t always maintain in other parts of the year.
Once, years ago, Christmas shopping in Halifax, I lost my boyfriend’s wallet. I don’t remember the exact circumstances. Maybe he gave it to me to hold, or asked me to put it in my purse. Or maybe he lost it himself and I remember guilt for no reason. Anyway, I remember how upset he was, and he was going to call and cancel his cards, but instead I called the store and asked if anyone had turned in a wallet. My boyfriend thought that was pointless – at Christmas, someone would jump at the chance for some cash and credit cards. But I was sure that at Christmas, no one would steal someone’s money. So I called anyway. Yes, someone had brought one in from the parking lot. We drove back and picked up the wallet, cash and all, and I felt vindicated in my faith in humankind.
I can’t keep up that faith year round. I am constantly in despair of mankind’s stupidity, selfishness, and shortsightedness. I do believe that most people are basically good when they take the time to think about the other person’s point of view. I also believe that most people are too stupid to do so and that this is why the world is in such a mess. But Christmas really emphasizes that thinking-of-others thing, and so, when Christmas comes, I believe that people are good.
I love getting gifts for people. I wish I had millions of dollars so I could buy the perfect present for everyone I know. Instead I restrict myself. I don’t want to bankrupt myself and it’s hard to find the perfect present for under twenty or thirty dollars. But boy, just you wait until Babby is old enough to understand Christmas. One friend of mine told me that she believed in Santa Claus for years because her family was so poor but they saved so well for Christmas that Santa always brought them their heart’s desire. That’s what I want to do, too.
Mostly, though, I just love tradition.
Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my parents have trimmed the tree in early to mid December. Mum and I do most of the work, while Dad sips egg nog, and then he fusses if the tinsel icicles aren’t hung perfectly straight, so he gets out of his chair and neurotically straightens every one. Our tree always looks like something out of a catalogue. Every night from then on, we sit in the evenings and stare at the tree while Christmas music plays and a fire crackles merrily. My parents read, and sip egg nog, and every now and then one of them looks up and sighs and says, “what a pretty tree.”
Christmas Eve, my mother will often read out loud from A Christmas Carol, and/or we’ll watch the Alistair Sim version on DVD. We will attend midnight mass and end it by singing Silent Night in a darkened church with a tapered candle burning in every hand.
My high school friends found themselves charmed by my parents’ story-book approach to the festive season, and one by one they began attending our annual tree trimming. We went to different universities, but every year we would come together for the tree trimming. My friends would sometimes arrive with their boyfriends. My goddaughter would attend as a baby, then as a toddler, then as a young child. My friends would sip my father’s egg-nog (which is always poured with a liberal hand), and hang my family’s decorations and then hang icicles that my father would then straighten. Then we would all sit around and listen to Bing Crosby and sip egg nog and every now and then, someone would sigh “what a pretty tree!”
No, I can’t understand hating Christmas. The warmth and the light and the love and the giving and feasting and the fairy tales make Christmastime my favourite time of year. I wish that, like Scrooge, I could keep Christmas in my heart all year round. I certainly try to do so.
My rule has always been to decorate the house either December 1st, or the first snowfall. Whichever comes first. It snowed last week in Vancouver.
It’s CHRISTMAS TIME.