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It took me a while to get in the Christmas spirit this year.  It’s not that I was down, or reluctant; I’ve just had a lot going on and it seemed like all of the build up evaporated before I hardly had a chance to acknowledge it.

We put up the tree a week later than usual, so that didn’t help (yes, it’s artificial and just the right size for our little house).  And we’ve been in such a “doing” mode all fall, it kind of perpetuated into the holidays and didn’t leave us much time for sipping cocoa (with Bailey’s) and singing carols in the living room.

The sad thing is, I recall having the same notion last year, that Christmas kind of snuck up on me, and quite possibly the year before that. I’m not certain, but it wouldn’t surprise me. That made me wonder if this is now going to be the norm.

I mean, ten years ago, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas felt much longer. And thirty years ago it felt like an absolute eternity, sprawled out like an endless barrier between me and a host of irresistible presents sure to ceaselessly delight and entertain me for the rest of eternity, if only I could ever reach them.

As I’ve grown older my perception of the passage of time, of course, has sped up, as I’m sure will continue to be the case. But in regard to the month of December, it seems it has doubly so. No sooner has the last piece of pumpkin pie made it into my belly, than I am thawing the Christmas kringle to greet us on the morning of the 25th. Thrift! Thrift, Santa Claus! The Thanksgiving-baked meats do coldly furnish forth the yuletide tables. Read the rest of this entry »

Just a quick post while we’re still enveloped in the limbo between two year-end holidays.

As with most of my friends and family, my Christmas tradition has evolved over the years to include the dedicated viewing of various motion pictures. Naturally, the collection is greater than the season permits, and so every year at least some of the holiday movies list remains unwatched. However, there are a handful of staples that always seem to make their way onto the docket and so I thought I’d share them in the spirit of the season.

Below please find a list of my top 5 Christmas movies: Read the rest of this entry »

As I have said before, I really love Christmas. Unlike so many Americans, however, it isn’t the gifts or food that warm my heart; nor is it the religious origin of the Christmas holiday, the birth of Jesus and the mythology that now surrounds it. Sacrilegious, I know, but over the last couple of centuries the culture of Christmas has evolved to carry a message entirely its own.

In my heart and mind, I have come to appreciate my own definition of “the true meaning of Christmas,” a meaning with which I am certain you are already familiar. I casually refer to this as “the Scrooge lesson,” or the “Dickensian Christmas Spirit.”

I love “A Christmas Carol.” It has such great characters, images, and lessons to appreciate and it never, ever gets old. And what I consistently take away from it are the very themes that a sorrowful Jacob Marley desperately urges his old partner Ebenezer to embrace: the common welfare, charity, mercy, kindness, forbearance, and benevolence. I also receive the lesson in Scrooge choosing to dine with the friends of his nephew Fred—sharing warmth in the company of others to thankfully appreciate the blessings of fine food, drink, and camaraderie.

Perhaps most importantly, and more subtle, is the general theme of A Christmas Carol that, in addition to charity and revelry, Christmas should also be a time of self-reflection, a time to ponder our lives and how we choose to live them. In Scrooge’s own vein, Read the rest of this entry »

I love Christmas for all the right reasons.

Despite all of its faults, its overwhelmingly misguided practice, and it being the single most successful marketing scam in the history of mankind, it’s still a great idea.

No, I don’t mean Santa Claus (fun though he may be), nor presents wrapped in yards upon yards of paper made solely for ripping up and throwing away, nor chopping down trees to put them in our living rooms for a month and then toss out with the garbage (maybe we should wrap them up in used wrapping paper!), nor wasting hundreds of thousands of kilowatt-hours of electricity to power tiny, twinkly lights; the number of which is meant to serve as a proportional indicator of one’s enthusiasm for the season.

The idea I am talking about is what I, and others, refer to as “the Christmas Spirit” – the idea that Christmas can serve as an annual reminder to be a little more generous, more courteous, more merciful, even nicer. A time to look at those with less and feel some empathy, hopefully enough to actually reach out and help them. A time to look at those with trials greater than our own, whether it be in health, or happiness, or love, and extend our own good fortune to them. This is the time of year for us to give pause, count our blessings, and share them with others, especially strangers and those in need. Read the rest of this entry »

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