Happy Christmas! It is seven o’clock in the morning. I have been lying in bed, snuggled under the covers, for about two hours now, trying my hardest to go back to sleep. For the first time in several years, there are no little kids in the house to get excited about Christmas morning. We weren’t up helping Santa lay out his gifts in the wee hours of the morning. There is no pitter-patter of little feet and there is no reason to be awake…and yet I am. I have been…for several hours. I am still excited. I am thirty-seven years old, and I am still excited for Christmas.
There is something about Christmas. That is such a trite saying, but I double-dog…no, I triple-dog dare you to find a better way to say it. There is something about Christmas. Maybe I am just one of those Christmas-crazy people…but really, I’m not. There’s just something about Christmas. It is the one time of the year when people are less selfish. There is good will. People are inherently happier. Even the ones that get all caught up in the materialistic side of it are in general happier than they are the rest of the year. There’s just something about Christmas.
For me, it’s the excitement of being with family and friends and giving completely useless, un-needed things. It’s the one time of year that I can give everyone something and not have them look at me like, “why are you giving me this?” and then try to sneak the money into my wallet…or leave it in the car’s cup holder…or stick it up on the fridge. It is perfectly acceptable to give at Christmas, and I love giving. I don’t see it as materialistic. It makes me giddy. I love the thought of my friends and family opening something perhaps completely useless…and yet it is theirs and they can be silly and enjoy something that they never would have gotten themselves. It is an expression of love and appreciation…and we all get to be a little kid on this day. As I was delivering the gifts this year, several of my family members said, “You didn’t have to.” My response is always the same. I know I didn’t have to. That's the point. I wanted to. I like it. It makes me happy.
I know that the gifts are not the “true meaning” of Christmas…but, in my subconscious, they are a metaphorical symbol of that true meaning. We celebrate Christmas because of the gift of Jesus…that perfect baby born to the Virgin Mary…the Miracle that came into the world to save us all. What an amazing gift Father in Heaven gave to us…his only begotten son. There is no greater gift. How can we
“repay”? By living life the best we can. Perhaps that is what makes me so excited every Christmas morning…the chance to experience so many people remembering to be a little bit better all at the same time.
Christmas is the one day that everyone gets to be Santa. Everyone gets to be a kid. Everyone gets to be a little more Christ-like. Everyone gets to love each other freely and unconditionally without the cares and burdens of the world encroaching. At least, that’s what happens in my world. The door is open and everyone who is in the house gets to unwrap at least one thing, even if it is just a package of Oreos. It’s not the gift that is important, it’s what the gift symbolizes…the unconditional love of Jesus and Father in Heaven. The goodness that Santa sees in every human being that at least tries. Because, let’s face it. If we all had to be perfectly good all year, we would all get nothing but coal. But when you step back and look at the big picture…the Atonement of Christ doesn’t require us to be perfectly perfect, it just requires that we try our hardest and, when we mess up, we try to fix it and try again. So it is with Santa’s list…we don’t have to be perfectly perfect. If so, we would all be on the naughty list and the coal industry would literally and figuratively be in the black.
Does any of this make sense? Maybe not…but really, what does make sense at Christmas? We spend way too much time watching cheesy movies. We make fruitcake. Some people eat fruitcake. We kiss under poisonous weeds. We go around and leave food on people’s doorsteps. We take the food that was left for who knows how long on our dirty doorsteps into our houses and eat it. We leave suspicious packages on doorsteps. We take willingly take suspicious packages into our homes. We wear ugly sweaters and are proud of it. We momentarily suspend disbelief and the laws of physics and believe in Santa and his flying reindeer. And why should it have to make sense? It doesn’t have to. That’s why we are allowed to wake up crazy early and be excited for a merry Christmas.
The Great (First) Cookie Cook-Off of 2012
As a teacher, I “get the summer off” each year. Technically, I get fired in June and rehired in August…but no one really wants to think of it that way…they prefer to think that teachers have the best/cushiest jobs around. And, really, we do. If it weren’t for the parents and the kids, my job would be perfect. But today I’m not talking about my job. It is, after all, “summer vacation,” the reason that all teachers become teachers: June, July, and August. We look forward to it all year. We plot and plan and hope and dream and it finally gets here. We finished up school and got the kids graduated on last week, so this past Monday was the official “start” to my summer vacation. Monday, I went with my sister and nieces (and great-nieces) to Las Vegas to do some shopping. Tuesday, I went with my Mom to Mesquite to go shopping and get her hair done. Wednesday I officially got bored.
What does that say, when I get “bored” after two days? I refuse, however, to let boredom win. I will not waste my summer sitting around trying to figure out what I can do. That’s when I decided to make some oatmeal cookies. (Well, sometime between that moment and the moment I realized we had 7 containers of oatmeal…unopened…in our pantry.) It sounds easy enough…but when I looked in The Cookbook (the cook book that my mom (usually referred to as Grandma) makes for everyone on their graduation/wedding…I realized that there was no recipe for oatmeal cookies. If there is no recipe in the book, that means there is only one thing to do…find a bunch of recipes and try them all.
Just in Case
For Christmas several years ago my sister gave me a "Just in Case" kit for my car. It was a simple little duffle bag filled with a fleece blanket, a flash light, bottled water, snacks, and a couple of road flares. I thought it was a great idea, especially since I was constantly on the road either commuting back and forth to work or traveling. A couple years later I decided to add to the kit. I threw in a couple pairs of socks and some old sweat pants and a shirt…just in case. For me, this little kit was sufficient. I already carried a first-aid-kit and a couple rolls of toilet paper under the seats of the car, so some water, food, extra clothes and a blanket were enough for anything that I would encounter in my regular travels. Luckily, I have yet to have to use any of it. I like to "be prepared" when I go on longer trips, too. Being prepared just gives you peace of mind, lets you enjoy things more, and gives you choices. Several years ago, when I took my nieces on a cross-country road trip, we were trying to fit four teenage girls and myself in a little car for a two-month trip.
My nephew brought home a turtle earlier this week. This wasn’t a surprise. In fact, I (uncharacteristically) agreed to letting the reptile live with us several months ago…with the stipulation that we name it Crush. (If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, explaining it won’t help.) It was a nice compromise, since I wouldn’t give in to getting a dog.
Comfort and Joy
Comfort and joy come in many different forms…and those forms change from day to day for each person. Currently, my comfort comes in the form of leftover cornbread smothered in honey and soaked in warm milk. Cringe if you will, but it’s been a staple meal since I made the cornbread to go with the chili earlier this week, and each time I eat it, I feel better on the inside--not like the “my hunger is being satiated” feel good, but rather the “life is good and everything will be okay” feel good. Everyone needs to feel that once in a while…hopefully at least once a day.