Sunday, December 2, 2007

I'm One of Those

That's right--my Christmas cards--they're nearly done. We're short two or three cards and we need to buy more stamps (already ordered off of the Post Office website--Hi, USPS, we hate your website as much as you seem to hate us!), but other than that it's nearly complete.

In the past, I've rolled my eyes at Christmas decorations hanging from the stores' ceilings and grumbled occasionally about the over-commercialization of the holiday season. Whatever. I like to try the Grinch on now and then, but the truth remains that I love Christmas. I love it. I love the whole friggin' season. The lights, the glitter, all the shiny objects decorating everything that stands still for longer than ten seconds--I love it all. I cannot get enough of the tacky light displays that radiate enough heat to melt snow in December.

I love the unbridled consumerism, if that's what you want to call it. Picking out presents for my family has to be one of the high points of my year. The majority of my Christmas shopping is done by Thanksgiving because I almost always stumble across gift ideas in August. Every year we accumulate gifts in our basement in anticipation of Christmas and then on a weekend in early December, we haul up the Gift Box from the basement for an afternoon's Wrap-a-Thon. Wrapping paper, tissue, and gift bags go flying and a couple of hours later we emerge, picking Scotch tape from our hair with a pile of gifts on the counter. This is the one time of year we can buy things for loved ones without making anyone feel awkward.

You know what else I love? The Christmas stories. I love the whole Love and Generosity Towards Your Fellow Man theme that runs through every one--A Christmas Carol, It's A Wonderful Life, Rudolph, The Miracle on 34th street--or whatever that movie's called. This is when we get down to what living this life is all about: other people. This is the best time of year to remember that it's in giving that we find joy and in selflessness we find meaning. I hear a lot of voices from our culture saying that it's the other way around: that in getting we find happiness and within ourselves that we find significance, but I think that we all know that for the lie that it is.

But, most of all I'm so glad to have this time to remember when a little baby came to change the world. As much as I adore the trappings of the season, it is sitting in church on Christmas Eve with my family, singing the songs and hearing the Christmas story all over again that is the heart of the season for me. As a child and now with children of my own I hear the story and remember that God puts a great treasure in fragile jars. And in the wonder of that I can appreciate more fully the gift He gave us on that first Christmas.

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