Sunday, December 19, 2010
Tis the Season
Christmas is coming. As a child those words thrilled me. It’s a feeling I still experience despite the fact that I've let go of any religious connection. There’s a sense of eagerness, of bustle, of anticipated sharing that permeates the very air. There are some things that are unique to the jolly season. Here are a few of my favorites:
SNOW… I know it falls and falls and FALLS, for months sometimes, but there’s something special about Christmas snow. Like millions of angels’ wings, the snowdrops tumble softly down, covering the bareness of early winter, transforming bushes and fence posts and last summer’s goldenrod into fairytale props. Christmas Eve snow surrounds streetlights like a nimbus and reflects in tiny glowing pools the reds and blues and greens of colored lights. Snow on Christmas Day lures me out of doors, sled in hand, just as it did when I was a child.
SCENTS… Bayberry candles and spicy cinnamon potpourri, warm apple cider and peppermint candy canes, wood smoke curling from chimneys, the sharp scent of freshly cut evergreens. And the foods! Roasting meats and savory stuffings, fruit pies and mince pies and mouth-watering tortes. Cookies frosted like fat snowmen, jaunty gingerbread men, lush dark fruitcake stuffed with fruits and nuts and soaked in brandy, eggnog, thick with foam and liberally sprinkled with nutmeg. Rich, buttery stolen studded with colorful candied peel. Plum pudding steaming hot and slathered with hard sauce.
SOUNDS… “I’ll be home for Christmas.” It’s almost impossible to not sing along with Christmas songs. The tunes are catchy, the sentiments echo the joy, and occasionally the longing, of the season, and because we hear them just a few short weeks a year, they hold their appeal. It doesn’t matter who sings them or how updated the rendition, the message is the same: ‘tis the season to be jolly—and generous and giving and loving and festive.
GIFTS… The meaning of Christmas can get lost in the pursuit of the perfect present if we forget that any gift can be the perfect one if we’ve put thought and care into its choosing. It isn’t the price or the quantity that determine perfection—it’s the heart behind the giving. Cost and size pale when compared to love wrapped in a homemade card or tied with the ribbons of sentiment.
FAMILY… Distance may separate family members—two of my children and my two sisters are far away in miles—but they can still live in our hearts. Often it’s one of the few times a year we make an extra effort to be in touch with those we hold dear if not near.
GRATITUDE… There is a profundity to the season, a reverent silence that invites us to reflect on who we are and what we have and why we are here. The deep and abiding need to find or make meaning in our lives finds one of its best expressions at this time of year. When we give of ourselves we find that we have been given ourselves.