Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Back when I was a kid, reading voraciously and taking a stab at writing my own stories, I was always enamored with books that featured a chapter or adventure or even just a scene built around Christmas. Little Women has a Christmas chapter. So does The Four Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright, one of my all-time favorite children's writers. And if I want to go back to when I was an even younger reader, even Mary Poppins included a magical story about Christmas shopping with the Banks children.
Christmas was always my favorite holiday, and not for the obvious reason. Of course I loved presents! What kid doesn't? But I loved the season in its entirety, from the ever-present carols to the smell of the Christmas tree. From my mother's special once-a-year cookies, to the gift-laden, gold-brocade feel of honest-to-God goodwill in the air.
Much more cynical as a grown-up, and I'm sorry that I am, I look back on that wide-eyed joy with a bit of wistfulness. Christmas spirit didn't become more elusive because I learned that Santa Claus isn't real (I was one of those kids that was never brought up to believe in him in the first place, actually). No, for me the Christmas spirit started waning during grown-up life, when holidays worked around family-shattering issues or the recent loss of a loved one became more labor than labor-of-love. In the face of some of our experiences, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come didn't just knock on our door, he blew it open and made himself at home.
As a writer, I included a Christmas chapter in one of my first novels, written during my high school years. As an adult writing a series, I recently ended one book shortly before Thanksgiving and have found that my next book picks up well into the New Year, leaving Christmas out of the mix entirely. And I'm beginning to rethink that.
This year for Christmas, I have a new granddaughter, which brings our grand-kid count up to three. Yes, our family had a big loss last spring and that means this year's Christmas will be held somewhere new and in a new way. But our grandchildren will be just as gleeful over the presents they receive, and the food, using all those treasured recipes, should be just as delicious.
Maybe it's time to show Christmas Yet to Come the way out and welcome Tiny Tim back into our home. I've missed the blessed little tyke.
Merry Christmas to all of us and a Happy New Year!