Thursday, December 31, 2009

Only 358 days until Christmas...

It was back in October – the 25th I think – when I knew for sure that it was coming. Oh, I knew intellectually that it was on its way, but it was far enough off that it still didn’t feel like a threat just yet. I was blissfully salivating over the Halloween treats and had not even thought about the emotional, spiritual and financial ramifications of its stealthy approach. I thought I had plenty of time to get ready and hadn’t started making any plans at all.

We were down at the “general store” picking up supplies for the week to come, when what to my wondering ears should appear but Bing Crosby, that mellow-toned harbinger of the Yule season. He was crooning over the Target Muzak, b-b-b-bing-ing his way through the ritual song of colorless winter precipitation which, puzzlingly enough, angers some warm-climate transplants who seem to believe that the singing of White Christmas somehow is responsible for every blizzard that rides the jet stream. (How else could you account for all this cold weather when the “science is in and global warming is a fact?”)

But I didn’t sit down to write about the socio-economic ramifications of a manufactured world crisis, or my personal belief that we puny humans don’t have a snowball’s chance in – well – Helsinki, of actually causing irreversible harm to Mother Gaia with our pathetic attempts at civilization. (By the way, while I believe that we ought to tread gently and do our best to preserve nature, I also believe that She’s more than capable of dealing with our worst.)

No, I sat down to lament the passing of time and how it unfairly slows down and speeds up in reverse proportion to how much enjoyment or how much distress we’re experiencing. The pain and misery of the Christmas shopping crowds seems to go on interminably, while the elation and delight of Christmas itself is over before you can even find batteries for all the toys. There is something very wrong with this equation and so I wonder if something can be done – if not to change the reality of the physics, to perhaps change the reality of our perception.

My first thought as I listened to The Bingster croon about his snowy dreaming was that it was WAY too early to think about glistening treetops and listening children. Too soon to hear sleigh-bells in the snow. But then I remembered, “I LOVE CHRISTMAS!” Who cares if it starts early? Just more time to enjoy the warm, fuzzy feelings of the season. My second thought was that stores ramp up the commercialized Christmas machine earlier every year and we barely have time to enjoy Halloween, let alone Thanksgiving before the Santa Express requires all our attention. But then I realized that I love to buy gifts and I love to get gifts, and the engine of capitalism needs this time of year so I’m okay with the commercial aspect too.

I read that time appears to pass more quickly as you get older, ostensibly because each passing year is a smaller percentage of your whole life. Makes sense to me. That’s a different case though than the phenomenon of the fleeting moment know as the Yuletide. In fact, with stores seeming to constantly work to expand the season, you’d think I’d be ready for Christmas to be over and take its long vacation, but this is not the case.

I spent a lot of time and effort hanging lights in the trees in the yard! I want to enjoy the colors another week or two before the outside world is reduced to shades of grey and brown with the occasional white covering that El Niño brings. The artificial tree in our living room is cheery and bright and several years away from losing its needles! Can’t I leave it up a little while longer?

But more than anything, I want to keep the Christmas Spirit longer. Maybe this year I’ll keep it all the way through to the next Rudolph sighting. That is, if I can fight off the bah-humbug drudgery of ordinary life. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll take down the mistletoe and holly, but the spirit stays by gosh, by golly. So, don’t be surprised if you hear me whistling about chestnuts, open fires and Jack Frost next time you see me. It’ll just be my way of fighting the inexorable progress of time and putting aside some peace and joy for the next hard day’s night.

When our girls were young, one of our favorite Christmas movies was the Sesame Street Christmas. The song at the end made me choke up every time.

“Keep Christmas with you all through the year
When Christmas is over, spread some Christmas cheer
Each precious moment – hold it very dear
And keep Christmas with you, all through the year”

Peace and Love to you all…

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