Over the years my feelings towards Christmas have ranged from frustration, to outright hostility to ambivalence. Obviously, it wasn’t the reason for Christmas that posed the problem. It was everything else, I guessed, I thought. The rampant commercialism and all that.
I have two preschoolers and knew I had to approach this year differently. And for some reason, I wanted to. The girls had begun to change me; how could I be so cold in the face of such innocent excitement? In spite of myself I began to feel excited, I began to feel optimistic and hopeful. Though, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure why. I adopted a Christmas radio station – Christmas Songs 24/7, uncertain of whether it might send me crazy. It did quite the opposite. My first thought was that a Christmas song and its royalties = the best pension scheme ever, and if every my kids want to be songwriters I’m going to encourage them in this direction. Hey I might try a few lyrics myself.
But my second thought, my third, my fourth, well…
My thoughts were flooded with memories. The Little Drummer Boy, took me back to being four years old, and thinking that a child like me could think about Big Things like Jesus seriously ( I know that’s a little intense for a four year old, but what can I say). Then Last Christmas, reminded me of when I first fell in love. Not some teenage first flutter, but the overwhelming love at first sight that happened to me when I first saw George Michael on Top of the Pops singing Young Guns. I was 8 and I knew I would never be the same. It took years to recover. I was 22 when I finally let George go. Fact.
Then there’s Band Aid’s Do They Know it’s Christmas – the original version. I love hearing that song. Even though I get pretty harsh on generalizations on Africa normally, all is forgiven on this song. Firstly because it’s a great song, that I remember feeling proud to buy. Secondly it gave us a bit of a conscience, it reminded us to care. Thirdly and yes the last shall be first I guess because George Michael was there.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – bring up different kinds of memories. That song is so poignant. Its then I remember the people I’ve lost, even though it wasn’t at Christmastime, the grief comes in a different more potent way. I’m reminded of friends for whom the Christmas season was marked by life changing tragedies. I feel the weariness of a long year when I hear that song. And often I feel the weariness of the long years, the past. The feeling that the promise and excitement fell short somehow. And I knew that feeling, that disappointment, that loss lay behind everything I’d felt about Christmas through the years.
What surprised me most though, was the realization that that was how I used to feel, how is used to be. I don’t feel that anymore. Redemption came in two preschool faces with giddy smiles. There are new traditions, new memories. It’s a whole new day with a whole new life; so new that the past became irrelevant, even forgettable. So yes I LOVE Christmas. I love the tacky decorations because they horrify me whilst they make me kids laugh. I love Santa movies because they are utterly saccharine, but I don’t care. I can even embrace the grief, because though I have lost, I have lived and loved and people are worth remembering. And the thing I love most with my wonderful family, we even have our song.