Celebrating a Moment of Quiet

My annual War On Christmas usually begins when two things happen:

1) I see QVC hosts, adorned with bedazzled reindeer sweaters that look like sequins were vomited on them, hawk holiday crap with some lame celebrity, and

2) When Costco puts up Christmas trees.

My annual War On Christmas therefore starts sometime after the Fourth of July.

Enough. It’s time to make peace.

On December 24th, I am fully and deeply committed.

I think it was because my family always did presents and most of our celebrating on Christmas Eve. The 25th was reserved for a trip to the grandparents or something else casual. Christmas Day in our family was the day after all the presents had been opened and all the celebrating had been done.

We went to church on Christmas Eve when my brother and I were little kids. When we returned home, my brother and I would discover that Santa had made his delivery while we were away. My mother had some crazy deal with Santa – somehow, she managed to negotiate his delivery time between the time we left for church and the time we got back home.

We had a tree with all blue lights. They were those big old-school bulbs. The tree cast a beautiful glow over the living room. Its fragrance blanketed the house. We all have snapshots in our heads of things we remember when we were very young. That blue tree is a favorite.

Those who know me well know me to be sentimental. Christmas Eve is when I go into sentimentality overdrive. My brain conjures up this Currier and Ives / Rockwellian, completely old-fashioned temporary state of being. I won’t listen to any music that’s not holiday-themed; I like to drive around and look at the lights. I like to cook a little something, and perhaps enjoy a bottle of champagne. The day and the night have solemnity. There’s way too much noise in our world.

For one night I prefer…I demand…the quiet.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is required viewing, of course. To this day I still get a little choked up when Linus says, “Lights please…”

On Christmas Eve, I use muscle memory to be closer to God. I was raised Protestant, Lutheran. On Christmas Eve, I buy into the dogma – it’s familiar and comforting. It’s what I knew, what I remember. I do not intellectualize on Christmas Eve. I play along with the story and enjoy the day. It’s the kind of familiar that is not a weight on me. I return to my “spiritual but not religious” state on December 26.

Santa and I are on a first-name basis. My uncle is a mall Santa. He looks like Santa even when he’s not in uniform. My aunt is his helper. Every year, they travel to a different part of the country, set up shop, and spend 6 weeks listening to the dreams of kids.

My kind uncle is the human manifestation of the real deal.

Santa is all around us. If you need some proof, I can provide it here.

I love Christmas Eve more than any night of the year.  I suppose that’s why I’m Mr. Cranky Pants about Christmas commercials on TV in July. I want to savor the wait. The anticipation is the fun part.

However you celebrate, your way is the best way. You have traditions and habits too, after all – and I would wager you get a bit sentimental as well. Good for you.

Merry Christmas to you, Dear Reader.

See you next week.

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