27 November 2013

What's in a Christmas?

I live with the juxtaposition of being both rather cynical about Christmas and a bit of a sap about it. I went through an "I hate Christmas" phase in high school, after Christmas had lost its ineffable zing (I think that was once I really started noticing and disliking the materialism of the holiday), but some of that wonder and fascination has seeped back over the years.

I love the music and films that evoke a sense of wonder and family. There's a great deal of humour in the holiday as well as pathos, which is probably why Love Actually and The Family Stone are among my favourite Christmas films. I also have a fondness for Elf, because my husband and I watched that together one night shortly before we admitted that we were turning into a couple and decided to make that transformation deliberate, rather than accidental. I suppose that means I should also really love Back to the Future, since a Back to the Future marathon sparked the incident which forced us to talk about our relationship, but since we were watching that with a group of friends, and it was just us watching Elf, I tend to have fuzzier feelings about that one. The traditional movies, like White Christmas are great, too, and I usually end up watching those at some point during the holidays.

E. and I were out for a walk the other week while people who work for the city were putting lights in the trees. It hit me that we get to experience Christmas with her from now on. This year she'll probably be fascinated with the lights, and next year, well, I'll have to make sure our tiny tree is out of her reach, since she'll be about 16 months old then and probably into everything. We took her for a walk in the evening so she could see the lights and the sparkly Christmas trees in the shop windows, and she found them captivating. True, sometimes she finds the wall captivating, but I think this time it was the sparklies that were so interesting.

We don't intend to do Santa with E. It wasn't something that my family really did; I don't remember ever believing in Santa Claus, though I did believe in fairies. Neither of us is particularly enthused by the idea of waiting in line at the mall with a bunch of screaming children so we can plop our child onto a stranger's lap and then pay an exorbitant amount for a picture. And I don't want her to have the expectation that Christmas is about the presents, and that if you're good enough, Santa will bring you anything you want.

J. and I like giving and receiving gifts, but we're not particularly gift-oriented. If you're looking at the "love languages" thing that was so popular a few years ago, gift-giving is at the bottom of the list for us. So we don't want Christmas to be all about the presents, fun as they are.

I try to live through the Christmas season focusing on Advent (originally a time of fasting prior to Christmas), to live in expectation, rather than getting caught up in the more hectic aspects of the season. It doesn't always work, but sometimes, I stumble across serenity.

I found myself rather more literally living in expectation last Advent, when we found out E. was on her way a week and a half before Christmas. The Christmas Eve service that year resonated more deeply than usual. This year, with a new little person in our lives, I wonder what Christmas has in store for us?

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