Those of you who have been with me a while know that I often see my life through the lens of the silver screen. That is never more true than around Christmas time. I am a sucker for holiday films. Whether it is the great Alistair Sim in the 1951 “A Christmas Carol” or Natalie Wood in the original “Miracle on 34th Street”, the sense of redemption and hope of a better life gets me every time.
But the holidays also bring out my perfectionist streak. I try desperately to create the perfect holiday. And no, I have never experienced it and maybe wouldn’t recognize it if I did, but I suspect it would have Andy Williams on the radio with a tree worthy of a Bing Crosby musical. There would be no closets stuffed with the items that I didn’t have time to put away, and money would never be s source of stress as I look to demonstrate care for my loved ones. And there would be no fighting. Really, no scrapping, squabbling, bickering. NOTHING. Unless it was in song.
But whatever film that is, it is not my life. My Christmas is messy. I think if my Christmas did come out of a film, it would be “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. Clark Griswold always sets up unrealistic expectations for the perfect memory-creating event with his children and fails mightily. He gets electrocuted, banged up and locked in an attic. He worries that his bonus check won’t come in time to pay for his children’s big gift. And as I sit here with a case of laryngitis (I guess my husband got his Christmas wish — LOL), Mr. Hero on crutches, and a new puppy pooping all over my house, perfection feels very far away. But somehow in the end, the Griswold kids know that they are loved and certainly I hope that is true of mine.
Speaking of kids. the best of Christmas really is for them, isn’t it? The magic. The unfettered joy. The belief. I have been enjoying listening to my kids learning about Christmas as they try to understand the complexities of God as baby concept. As they rode in the back seat, this is what I heard.
Little Diva (LD): Mommy, did you know that Joseph is God?
Me: No, baby. Jesus is the Son of God but Joseph is not God. Joseph was in love with Mary and helped raise Jesus like his own son.
LD: Oh… (Voice drifting off in confusion)
Sonny-Bunny (SB): Yeah, baby. God picked Joseph because he was the best babysitter ever.
And there you have it — the Nativity through the eyes of innocence. Mary had God’s baby and gave it to Joseph, the babysitter. (I guess he did carpentry on the side!)
That reminds me another favorite Christmas film, “A Christmas Story” with its unique view of a child’s perspective on Christmas and the single minded focus a child can have when it comes to getting the “big” present. Who can forget Ralphie’s face when he finally gets his Red Rider Bee-bee Gun? Now that’s magic.
But of all the Christmas movies, I think this is our Polar Express Christmas. My Sonny-Bunny is seven this year and while Santa continues to reign supreme, I see hints that this may not be true 365 days from now. He asks more questions and seems to have become savvy to the breaks in logic. He wonders how Santa can eat cookies at every house. How he can know exactly what each child wants even when they forget to write it in the letter? So far, I have answers but what happens when I don’t? I want him to always hear that special bell that only believers can hear. Forever. But if I can’t have forever, I hope that I’ll get at least one more year.
So as I lie in bed, waiting for the magic and mania to begin, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and to all a good night.
And for those, for whom Christmas bells do not ring, I say, “Shalom”, “Namaste”, and “Peace”.