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O Holy Night

There are a lot of songs about Christmas and each one invokes a memory, an image, a feeling or flavor. For example, Jingle Bells conjures up an elegant sleigh drawn by a sturdy horse over glistening white snow-covered hills. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sleigh like that and I bet you haven’t either. But you and I both have an image in our mind that’s as clear as if we were breathing in the crisp country air and hearing sleigh bells jingle as the big horse trots along. Ask any kid to sing a Christmas carol and they will choose Jingle Bells. Never mind that the sleigh eventually tips over, dumping a flamboyant Ms. Bright on her fancy fanny. Christmas isn’t Christmas without hearing Jingle Bells sung a hundred different ways.

Before Thanksgiving I went into a little store where the clerk was hanging Christmas decorations. He had sparkles of glitter on his hands that made their way to his face, onto his clothes and then shimmered to the floor. “Wow, you’re gonna be vacuuming that up for months,” I commented. He grinned. “My little girls love it when I come home like this.” Christmas carols were blaring over the intercom. Again I commented. “You are gonna be so sick of hearing Christmas music all day long for over a month!” He shook his head and with a smile said, “Naw, I could listen to Christmas music all year.” Now that was an unfamiliar tune that I wasn’t used to hearing. Usually it’s a refrain of Why do they keep putting Christmas stuff out earlier and earlier! vocalized with a Forte.

As the clerk’s un-Grinch-like behavior resonated, it got me thinking. What’s really so bad about celebrating the holiday season for as long as possible? So what if the promos go up early? Accelerated commercialism can actually be helpful in observing Christmas properly. Let me present my case.

Is it better to prepare for Christmas in a manic frenzy of baking, decorating, entertaining, shopping and wrapping? Most people cram in all that and more, barely pausing to contemplate what all the fuss is about. The chase continues through the finish line right into Christmas Day. As soon as the chaos clears it’s all over, leaving an anticlimactic void of disillusionment and exhaustion. Of course nobody wants to admit to feeling let down after the rush, but I’ll bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Starting earlier in the season can smooth it all out. You can decorate for the holidays unharried and then have time to sit and enjoy a steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of the tree with your family. You can put up lights on your house and still have time to drive around and take in the spectacle of illumination that welcomes the Holy Child. I’ll warrant that some of the light displays are more like welcoming Him to Las Vegas, but generally it’s a breathtaking experience. Buying or making gifts should be leisurely enough to allow you to consider each of the special people in your life that you love and want to give to. Christmas baking is about making memories through aromas and flavors that can last a lifetime. Christmas traditions should be unhurried and magical.

Most importantly, if you can interrupt the pandemonium that is so often the dominant element of the season, you won't be frantically wrapping presents, baking cookies or cleaning house on Christmas Eve. You can be still enough to hear the angels sing, Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace goodwill towards men. Quiet enough to really feel the essence of the night. Silent Night, Holy Night. Joyful enough to revel in the sole purpose of the festivity. Joy to the World! And time to meditate on the sacredness of this blessed night.

O Holy Night!

Original Watercolor

by Gail Winegar

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Read my past Christmas pieces in ARCHIVE: A Star! A Star! and Christmas at Our House