Notes: Most of the graphics in the post come from one of my favorite comic cartoonists: The Oatmeal. To go see the full version of his work and much more, click here: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/christmas I have absolutely zero to do with him and take NO credit for any of his work.
So, I had already completed a post of over 1500 words for you guys about my holiday experiences, but while attempting to upload supporting graphics, an error of some sort occurred, and I reloaded to find only 200 of them remaining. No auto-saves, no reversions, nothing. Just the first paragraph. Needless to say, especially because it’s supposed to be Christmas (and therefore illogically special or something…) I’m feeling a bit unmotivated to write again. However, I’m going to go, relax, take a shower, and give this another shot. Fortunately I’m stubborn.
A few hours later… *ahem* let’s try this again… Version 2.0
So, even before WordPress decided to wipe out my previous holiday post, I was really close to not doing a “Christmas” or “Holiday” post anyway because, to be honest, it’s not really that special in my life right now. I’ve been alone all day, and as I sit here drinking scotch and listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Pandora, I know that for now, this is it. Any family I speak to is far away, the majority of my friends won’t be getting anything for me and likewise I’m not concerned about them. The very few people that have made themselves important parts of my life will probably exchange gifts with me at some point (though to be honest, I would give regardless of receiving.. I kinda suck at receiving… but only in regards to gifts from those I care about… I mean.. yeah.. let’s just leave that there. ) Anyway, the holiday season for me is more about a little time off (it IS a miracle I have time to write finally!), parties and giving somebody as selfish as I am a little excuse to be giving (similar to Ramadan I suppose… and ironically the two are often compared.)
With all that said it wasn’t always like this for me, I’m grown now but when I was young there was magic. In “the lost Christmas post” (that’s what we shall call it now) I shared some of my Christmas morning memories; things like my father always getting “Soap on a Rope” or my love of the original Transformers action figures before the advent of video games. Of course there were always the big things like bicycles, big wheels or air hockey tables (yeah.. my brother got one I think…) that eventually gave way to game consoles as I grew older and the magic faded. It was less about the time and more about how expensive your item was.
But what was the magic when I was little? Was it the happy, fat man that supposedly brought me new things? The anticipation when I got up that morning and raced to the tree to see the newly appeared presents glimmering in the tree lights? The two days of feasts back when my family did it’s best to pretend it was a cohesive unit? It was all of it. The magic of Christmas has never had anything to do with Jesus for me, they did their best to try and educate me, but he was always an afterthought at most. The magic of Christmas was having a day when everything was right with the world. When everyone seemed happy and there were no strings. No school, no work, new things, happy family and an abundance of food. It didn’t matter that it was chaos or messy because nobody was stressing about it (or rather, if they were I was not made aware of it) and everyone was happy.
Naturally, as an adult, I’m fully aware that these are both embellished memories and that there were many underlying things that I didn’t see then. But the magic was there because I was a kid at Christmas and everyone was on the same page: That Christmas should be a good day, especially for the kids. So for one day my whole family seemed to set aside bills, drama and whatever stresses they had, and focus on making Christmas… Christmas. It was all about trying to live up to the ideal, and it worked for us, or for me anyway.
Now, the one part I can feel a little is what I mentioned earlier: giving. I only got presents for a couple of people this year, but I enjoyed shopping for them and giving to them. It seems like maybe some of them where underwhelmed by what I got them, but the process was worth it anyway. I even tipped the folks where I normally eat lunch a $20 because they were bored, and slow and had to work on Christmas Eve. But that was worth it simply by the genuine reactions I got. I guess maybe it’s the unexpected giving that really breeds gratitude. For adults I think that genuine gratitude from each other is the reward, especially when you can get somebody just what you know they want. The surprise. Maybe that’s a little of the magic when you’re a kid too.
That’s what it comes down to. If anything will ever bring back the holiday magic, it’s the children. Children are innocent and excited and not yet disillusioned by the realities of this world. They are pure, and with that innocence they create the magic of Christmas that we can all feel. Some people really do celebrate in the name of Jesus, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. But when I celebrate with my family it will be to help create and feel that magic again. It will be to be woken up at 6 AM after two hours of sleep because the kid(s) couldn’t wait any longer. It will be to stumble out to the kitchen for the coffee needed to make it through the morning. It will be to watch their faces light up as they unwrap their skillfully trick-wrapped presents and realize Santa got them exactly what they wanted (because Santa’s a boss.) It will be the mid-afternoon nap (if we’re lucky) and the prepping of the evening feast before we get dressed nicely and come together to celebrate this day. Christmas day is one of the few days of the year when we try just a little harder to make it good for ourselves, and especially for the little ones. Whether it be religion, tradition or decision, as long as it’s all going in the same direction it’s a good thing. I think that’s what makes the holiday magic on this or any day.