God Bless Us, Every One
Because my birthday is in December, my family would do something Christmas-y to celebrate. We would decorate the tree, go to see the Nutcracker, or visit Old Salem for the Candle Tea. Because the North Carolina School of the Arts is in Winston-Salem, there were always lots of great Christmas experiences to enjoy.
The Steven Center in downtown Winston was where a lot of these performances took place. I remember back in the day, it was a lovely old theater. Very elegant. One year I got to see the play A Christmas Carol. It was such a special day. I remember after the play was over, we moved into the lobby, and there were the actors still in costume, mingling with the audience. The ghost of Christmas Past was there larger than life. He was wearing a green velvet robe with a wreath in his hair; he gave me a candy cane and wished me a Merry Christmas.
In 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol. I’ve always loved a story of redemption, and this is one of the best. Even back in the 19th century, there were people who hated Christmas (Scrooge), and people who adored it (Tiny Tim). We’re not much different today. There are people who can’t wait for Thanksgiving to be over so they can decorate the house and play Christmas music, and there are those who can’t wait for the holiday to be over so things can get back to normal. These are the two extremes, of course, and there is a middle ground where people, who like Christmas, but in due time and without the rush to do all things Christmas. I am 100%, categorically, unabashedly in the chomping-at-the-bit to start the season, and the sooner-the-better camp.
Many years ago I had a friend who hated everything secular about the holiday. He was deeply committed to Jesus and the real meaning behind the day, but Santa or snowmen or reindeer had him breaking out in hives.
To someone like me this is similar to waving a red flag before a bull. With help from his colleagues, I would break into his office and decorate it with tinsel and every trapping of Christmas. He would scathingly call me Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch. I’m fairly certain he meant it as an insult and was further put out when I thanked him for the compliment.
No matter what camp you fall into, it truly is a wonderful time of the year. You may be rushing to get everything decorated or you may have had your tree up for a month. I hope we can all make sure to take the time to let our guards down a little and embrace life with a childlike wonder and joy. Christmas is a gentle reminder that now is the time to believe in magic, or miracles, in the joy that comes with giving, in the love that surrounds us, if we only open our hearts to it.