This past week, I came across some Christmas poetry I have collected over the years. It seems that every Christmas, I am overcome with its mystery and its meaning. Every Christmas, my current emotional state of mind has combined with thoughts of the season, and out comes some sort of poem.
This year, I was struck by the dichotomy of Christmas. We yearn to get to the place where we can reflect and wonder, relax alone in a dimly-lit room pondering what Jesus' birth means for all the people on Earth. We can't wait to spend a wonderful time with family and friends (and according to pop culture's holiday songs, it ain't Christmas if you aren't stationed in front of a warm, crackling fire, out skating on a frozen body of water or jingling some sort of bell).
Ironically, nowadays, in order to get to that place, society demands that we race around the mall, around the clock, buying the latest technology or toy, decorating the house with endless Christmas paraphernalia (although I have to say I kind of like driving by those huge lawn snow globes with Rudolph, Frosty or a random penguin trapped inside), organizing get-togethers with everyone we know and everyone we haven't seen in ages--over and above the usual daily responsibilities we have--it's exhausting. It seems like we have to undergo a hectic couple of months in order earn the pleasure of executing traditions and enjoying quality time with the people we love. We suffer a nightmare before Christmas to make all our dreams come true. We have to speed up so that we can slow down. We buy gifts for the ones we love to celebrate the Gift that God gave us - which is really the only Gift anyone will ever need.
It doesn't surprise me that in one sense, Christmas has transformed over the years, while at the same time, traditions have still held steadfast. For example, as I walked into the Superstore today, I was greeted by a recording of the Glee cast singing "Deck the Halls" on a portable CD player on the floor of the entrance - old has been incorporated with new. Nativity scenes are stocked next to Santa decorations. We madly shop for the best gifts to give on Magical Christmas Morning (or if you're Dutch, Mysterious Christmas Eve). Some things change (as the world ages) alongside other things we try desperately to keep the same (traditions).
This year, don't let the means become the end. Take some time to enjoy the "saturated" feeling that December brings. Our homes, offices and stores alike are full of decorations. Christmas music (old and new songs alike) soundtracks your everyday errands. The ground is (hopefully!) covered in snow, insulating everything. We as people are saturated with almost an entire year of events that have occurred, and we are only a couple weeks away from starting a new, fresh year. Take some time to appreciate the quiet, simple, glorious aspects of Christmas, before it's gone for another year. Remember, thanks to God, you already have all you need.
Below is a little piece I wrote in reference to my "Dichotomy of Christmas" theme this year:
2010: The Dichotomy of Christmas
The table is set; the candles are lit
We fight for a parking spot only to lose
Mom beckons to everyone, “come in and sit.”
There’re too many smart phones – how ever to choose?
Turkey is savoured, trimmings devoured
I conquered the lineup – only to find
Faces are smiling; not one soul is sour
To my dismay, I left my wallet behind
Loved one join hands, and in one great voice
Heart races as I try to race against time
Old carols are sung; the people rejoice
To decorate, shop, wrap and tag, wine and dine
Later, alone, I’m sipping my cider
Where did I put the Nativity pieces?
Reflecting on Christmas, my smile becomes wider
Where are the Mary and Joseph and Jesus?
The lights in my heart blind the lights on the tree
Why do I feel like I need to pretend?
For Christmas—it no longer mystifies me.
When did the stressful means become the end?