There are way too many photos and not enough energy to tell the stories that go with them, but nevertheless...as best as June's camera could catch it, this was our Christmas...
It wasn't ornate, or overplanned. It was pretty simple actually. Christmas eve at home with grandparents...Christmas morning with just us...and the afternoon and evening with more grandparents...There were no siblings in sight...all busy with their own Christmas' out of the country...that left just us to celebrate the day, so we quietly did our best. With two small girls under five, that's easy.
I feel badly for the people who aren't surrounded by kids at this time of year. It's the best part of a busy, big build up kind of day. Grown ups just don't often do this thing the right way. It has to be equal parts magic and mystery... sprinkled with twinkling lights. You can't forget the lights. Any kind of lights will do, I suppose, as long as they're illuminating something wondrous.
The presents don't have to be big or expensive, as long as there are presents. One of Zo's favorites was a new Harry Potter wizard's wand that my Dad carved her. She tripped over herself tossing curses and jinxes about the house a full hour after opening it. It doesn't take much. Christmas does most of the work...we as adults just have to show up and try to shape all of that magic.
For me, Christmas has always been an enormous deal. It's the one time of year where we're allowed to fall headlong into sentimentality and magic. It's okay to get nostalgic. It's okay to overindulge all of our senses and emotions. It's Christmas...say what you will about it's commercialism...about it's forever altered meaning and interpretation. It's the one day of year that can halt wars, and silence the sound of indifference.
All I heard this Christmas was people naysaying Christmas...complaining...avoiding...even running away from this one day that allows us so much joy and magic if we only let it. Sit and watch the snow fall. Decorate your tree with vigor and pride and the knowledge that it's lights can heal souls. Wrap your own presents, fiddle with the ribbon, and finger the paper that will only be ripped and torn by hands smaller than yours. It's good for you. It's healthy. Believe in something that you can't see. It's important. It's always been oh-so important.
Each and every year I recall a letter written a long time ago. I was never better able to explain my love affair with Christmas as well as Francis Church did in 1897, but then who has? Not many. In it's entirety it is one of the most moving collections of words on earth. There is nothing that explains the magic of Christmas as his letter to Virginia O'Hanlon did.
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
I don't know how you feel about Christmas, if you're one of the many like me, who love it, or the few who don't. I only know that we can all use a little more faith, poetry, love, and romance, and there is Christmas giving it away for free. You just have to reach out and take it. I suppose sometimes the easiest things are the most illusive.
Each year I wait for the excitement to consume people, to fill even the most indifferent with wonder and joy, with the true spirit of Christmas, and every year I catch more and more people finding it difficult to fall into rhythm with the season. It can undo me. Mostly I find myself focusing on my own house, and what's drifting through the air and into the heads and hearts of the people that I love the most. Sure there can be disappointment, and of course we can never really impart change in the lives of the people who aren't willing to embrace change, but we can make wondrous our own homes, and make magical our own expectations of the season, so we try our best.
I sincerely hope that you had as merry of a Christmas as we did. Indeed, there was wonder, and magic...and yes, there most definitely were twinkling lights. It wouldn't be Christmas without them.