Sunday, December 5, 2010

The weather may be colder, but our hearts grow warmer....

It's the most...wonderful time....of the year.... perhaps I used that awhile ago...but that was in reference to football season.  But this time, I'm actually using these infamous music lyrics to describe the holiday season.  I absolutely love the holiday season; starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year's.  It is, by far, the absolute best.  I love watching the lights go up at each displays that show up night, after night, after night; so there's always something new to look at.  I love driving past tree lots, watching the families walking around and choosing just the right tree--seeing the kids get all excited, running around the car as the tree is tied to the roof.  I then love going out and looking for my own tree...deeply inhaling the smell of pine through my nose, and feeling for the freshest tree by running my fingers along the branches, feeling the bristled needles and the stickiness of the sap.  I love holiday shopping...finding just the right gift for the right person...even if means suffering thru traffic and parking 3 miles away from the mall.  And then there's the music...from celestial to non-denom, traditional to modern, it's the only time of year that people actually admit to listening to Johnny Mathis, Perry Como and Andy Williams without getting the "you're listening to WHO?" looks from other people.  I will have The Chipmunks blasting in my car and smile when (at a red light) I find myself next to some guy who, while sporting his tats, a mohawk and piercings, will start mouthing "Christmas...Christmas...time is here..." right along with me.   Despite the fact that I am a warm-weather type of gal, there is no doubt that November to January is my favorite time of year....hands down.

Now I could ramble on about my thoughts on this holiday season...but instead, I'd like to share with you an article that I cut out and kept from...oh...I don't even know how long ago now.  When I first read it, it struck me in such a way that I couldn't help but cut it out and frame it.  Now, every year, when I pull out my Christmas decorations, it goes on the wall, gets propped up against a counter; it goes somewhere where I can read it and it reminds me how magical this time of year is...what I have to be thankful for...and just how...despite whatever type of year it happy I am to have made it to another holiday season.  I've never really had a medium where I can share this with the masses...but it dawns on me that, thanks to this blog, I have the chance to share this article with all of friends...friends of friends...and complete strangers.  And in case you're wondering why I chose to retype this instead of share my own sentiments, me...this article is written so well, and the words are so powerful, that there's nothing I could compose that would have the same impact that these words do.  So enjoy...and thank you...Renee Schafer Horton...for writing this article, so many years ago....

"Beliefs for the Season of Joy and Giving --
December is the month in which the Scrooges of the world are separated with a fair amount of ease from the Tiny Tims.  You've got your "ho-ho-ho, isn't it a wonderful time of year" kind of people and then you got your "when will it be over" types.

I'm in the first category.  I pretty much love everything about the Christmas holiday except for fruitcake and the occasional, unavoidable traffic jam.

I love singing Christmas carols, decorating sugar cookies, drinking hot apple cider, reading children's holiday books, putting up Christmas lights in the yard and sitting quietly in a darkened church listening to the nativity narrative out of the Gospel of Luke.

But mostly what I like about the Christmas season is the sense of belief this month engenders in me.  I can be a caustic, cynical, negative-wave kind of person 11 months out of the year, but come the first Sunday in December, I'm all sweetness and light because I'm put back in touch with a deep belief in the impossible.

Christians worldwide believe that a young unmarried virgin conceived a child, gave birth to him in a stable and was told by an angel that her child was the Messiah -- a pretty impossible story.

It doesn't matter that I know similar tales of virgin births have been documented by researchers studying the power of myth or that some theologians argue that Jesus Christ was nothing more than a political problem.  All that matters is that when I set out our creche, something inside me clicks and the mustard seed of faith that struggles for life all year starts to grow.

No matter how rotten the weeks leading up to December, my heart softens as the days shorten, and certain truths become crystal clear.

With that in mind, I'd like to share my December Beliefs:

I believe that a room illuminated only by the lights of a Christmas tree cures just about any ill.

That said, I believe Christmas decorations should be banned from sale until after Thanksgiving.  Having Christmas trimmings next to the Halloween candy really gets on my nerves.

I believe that everyone at least once in his or her lives, should go to a nursing home during December and sing Christmas carols.

I believe that women, in general, need to take a lesson from men on how to forgive and forget.

I believe that men, in general, need to take a lesson from women in how to multi-task at home.

I believe giving is more fun than receiving, especially if you can surprise the recipient.

I believe that a room of homemade sugar cookies, colored frosting and 4-year-olds is something akin to heaven.

I believe that saying something nice is just as easy as saying something mean.

I believe the best thing about the Catholic Church is that I can show up for Mass in jeans with holes in the knees and still feel welcomed.

I believe a good bottle of wine, a warm blanket and a comfortable couch make conversation almost unnecessary among best friends.

I believe it is impossible to argue with someone while you are holding hands.

I believe everyone has a story worth listening to.

I believe that fruitcake, used judiciously, could solve the problem in the Middle East.

That said, I believe two mothers should be put in charge of the Middle East peace process.

I believe honesty alone is enough to get us to God.

I believe that when someone is crying you should hold that person until the tears stop.

I believe that I am abundantly blessed and that most of the time I forget that fact.

I believe everyone should watch "It's a Wonderful Life" at least once.

I believe that miracles still happen, we just miss them because we aren't paying attention.

And finally, I believe that lots of the time, life hurts, but that it's still worth living.  Especially during December."