Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Top 5 Christmas Joys of All Time

After having read my last post, my husband called from work and wondered, had I screwed up dinner? "No...well, at least, not yet," I replied. After all, it's not rare for something to go terribly wrong while I'm in the kitchen. There is a reason why my two-year-old daughter always screamed, "Pizza Guy!", when the doorbell rang. Two Christmases ago, I beat the sugar cookie recipe in with the butter. You can see why he might have concern...

No, no, no, I'm not considering offing myself during Advent. I just decided that this year, instead of dreading everything I have to do for Christmas, I would fully explore Advent. Not only does it signal the start of the new church year for my faith community, it is also an occasion to spend some time in the dark while waiting for the light of the world to be born/reborn.

I recently blogged about my top Christmas gripes. I also wrote about not noticing the sacred or the joyful in life and how that ends up desecrating everything. So, in the grand spirit of recognizing all that is good, here are my top 5 (really, five) Christmas joys of all time...

1. The lights. I love Christmas lights--the subtle white ones nestled in fresh greenery and the kitschy Las Vegas ones that cause light pollution. Although I would never outline every angle of my house (I don't like ladders and I'm lazy), when I see an over-the-top production down the street, I think, OHHHHH YEAAAAAAAAH!! I also think, SUCKAS! HAVE FUN GETTING THOSE DOWN!

2. The cards. Like Charlie Brown, I wait by the mailbox. I love them all--photo montages, cheesy brag sheets, religious ones, funny ones...even the ones that rain excessive glitter on my floor. (Recently, I read that glitter is the "genital herpes of the crafting world". It still makes me happy.) I simply like hearing from my friends and family this time of year. Of course, this is the first year I've gotten my own out in recent memory so I don't receive as many as I used to. That's Stop Number One on my Anti-Grinch List for the years to come.

3. The baking. I am not a joyful cook but I do like baking for the holidays. Baking reminds me of my mother who was no Martha Stewart either, unless it was for Christmas or our birthdays. Although I hated being her sous-chef and chopping nuts, I loved it when she made gingerbread men. I would decorate them however I wanted with raisins and frosting and candy. She used to compliment my artwork and then hang them on the tree...

4. The tree. Oooh, the sight of the brightly lit Christmas tree with silver tinsel and a bizarre menagerie of hand made ornaments and a mismatched light-up star...aaah, the comforting smell of homemade gingerbread cookies festooning said tree...eeeek, the sound of mom's blood-curdling shrieks as she came down one morning to find the cookies and candy canes covered inky black from a swarm of ants. That was the first and last year we had a live tree with a root ball. (To add insult to injury, we planted it in the back yard. It died.)

5. The music. Nothing, of course, by Mariah Carey, Celine Dion or their ilk that can get stuck in your mind and cause cerebral hemorrhaging. I'm talking The Messiah, by Handel or The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky, or the entire soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, and/or especially "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin" by the blues great, Albert King. My kids are strictly forbidden to listen to or sing Christmas music between New Year's Day and Thanksgiving. Some might consider this harsh. But, I think this music is joyful because, like all joyful experiences, it is transient, fleetingly appreciated...not in our world for long.


Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Nancy also has a livid hatred for "moving lights". I think they freak her brain out, particularly the ones that seem to crawl along the sting.
For those who put lights up before Thanksgiving and take them down after say mid January she has no love. She has been known to give some of these folks a break if they went on an extended vacation but if they are still up February 1rst, the scorn is undying.

Lynn said...

I concur with all of this, Nan. Although I could listen to Christmas music (all varieties, including Mariah, are welcome) every day of the year and never tire of the warm, gooey feeling it gives me. In fact, I've been know to belt out "Marshmallow World" in the middle of summer. :)