Silk’s Post #65 — Christmas is not a one-note season. It has a lot of different moods.
There’s jolly, and hectic, and merry, and sentimental, and excited, and relaxed, and uplifted, and joyful … and sometimes even a little blue.
Right now, it’s late at night, I’m far behind on my Christmas “to-do” list (as I typically find myself every year) and my Christmas mood of the moment is reflective. And maybe a bit nostalgic.
They say Christmas is for kids, but really we’re all still kids somewhere in our hearts. Sometimes you have to dig pretty deep to find your inner child, but it’s there. It’s that part of you that still believes. Not just in Santa, but in everything. Every wonderful possibility, every kind of magic, every dream that might come true.
Personally, I stopped believing in Santa at a pretty young age – around five. Maybe I was born a Nancy Drew wannabe, but the evidence just mounted up and it led me to the inevitable conclusion. First, it was clear to me that our chimney would not accommodate a largish man whose belly was described as a bowl full of jelly. Even more problematic, how did he get into the houses and apartments that had no fireplaces at all? Were those kids to go toyless? There were many other clues, such as the obvious fact that there was more than one “Santa” swanning around, and the doubtful idea that he could fly around the whole world in a single night. (Strangely, I never questioned the reindeer-powered sleigh.)
Yet, for several years I went along with the Santa fiction, mainly because it seemed so important to my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles that I believed. I actually remember not wanting to let them down. And now, 60 years later, I still think my instincts were right. Adults wish children to believe what they can no longer believe themselves. It reawakens their own hopes.
Some people feel Christmas has been ruined. Commercialized to death. It’s hard to defend the spectacle of the shopping stampede that the season of joy and peace has turned into. Others feel that the “true meaning” of Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ has been lost in the shuffle.
Now, I won’t touch the topic of Christmas being Christ’s birthday with a ten-foot pole. (If I stopped believing in Santa at five, I’ll leave it to your imagination what I believe about the coincidence of Jesus having been born at just exactly the same time as the celebration of the ancient pagan Saturnalia festival).
But I definitely do feel the spirituality of the season. It’s a time for us all to remember how to believe, how to hope, how to abandon our acquired fear of disappointment and care deeply about things that matter to us. About people we love, and even about people we can’t relate to … or might call our enemies.
Though I’ve taken a lifelong detour away from any organized religion, there’s one small part of the Bible that says it all for me. It’s called the Beatitudes and it comes from the Gospel of Matthew, at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. I remember every word because I once sang it as a solo with my 160-voice high school chorus behind me. You’ll remember it when you hear the opening words …
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Tonight I dug out the CD an old high school friend had made for me from the LP that was recorded of that performance back in 1966 (thanks, Bill). I was 17 when I sang this and I hadn’t listened to it in years.
It conveys all the hope I want to share with anyone who might be reading this. Here’s the audio file link if you’d like to listen, and I wish you the season of your own dreams.
North Shore High School Chorus – 1966