I'll be honest, Christmas stresses me out. Consequently, I end up blogging less around this time because my head is crowded with the things that distract from the true meaning of the holidays. You all know what these things are so I'll refrain from ranting. (OK, one rant: The cavemen from Duck Dynasty just released a Christmas album – Duck the Halls. You can purchase it for $11.88 at Walmart, where the Duck Dynasty reigns supreme over every department in the store thanks to a MAJOR licensing agreement with America's favorite bearded buffoons. I can only imagine what the workers in Chinese labor camps must think of us as they pump out Duck apparel, home goods, antibacterial band-aids and now a Christmas album. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-lame. Rant over.)
As a child I loved Christmas. (Duh, right?) I was neither spoiled nor religious, which meant at Christmas time I fell somewhere between the girl in a department store dress who went skiing and got the Barbie Power Wheels Jeep and the girl in a homemade jumper who read about Jesus and served soup to homeless people. I loved Christmas for all the twinkly reasons that many of you love Christmas.
I loved decorating my bedroom with strings of white lights. I loved curling up with my dog under the Christmas tree. I loved how the house looked from under the glittering pine branches, all speckled with ruby lights and homemade Christmas ornaments; my family coming and going in sweaters and scarves.
I loved watching the snow fill our yard. I loved being the first one to walk in it. I loved stomping a path to the grape fields. Always an alpha female, I loved knowing my sisters would have to (literally) follow in my footsteps. I loved listening to Christmas music. In the days before CDs, I'd record tunes right off the radio. Each Christmas I'd create a mixed tape of holiday songs, many of which were half-songs since I was repeatedly late to pressing the record button on my purple radio. I loved helping my mother address Christmas cards. I loved baking cookies. I loved advent calendars, mostly because behind each window was a piece of chocolate. (Who wouldn't love that?)
I loved watching Charlie Brown make a statement with a sad, droopy tree.
I loved that my aunts, uncles and cousins would gather every Christmas Eve at my Nana and Papa's house. I loved that even though we didn't see each other all the time, we were guaranteed to see each other at Christmas time. I loved seeing us all shuffle around in big socks, my aunts huddled over serving trays, my cousins telling crude jokes, my uncles wondering how anyone will get home in the snow.
I loved Christmas because it stirred up a dreamy kind of feeling. Not because I knew I'd be showered with gifts or visited by Santa – though I'm sure these trappings played a small role in my excitement – but because everything seemed a little less ordinary in December.
As an adult this wonder starts to wane. Why? Because Christmas is a lot of work for adults. There's the cooking, the baking, the shopping, the Christmas card distributing, the house decorating, the house cleaning, the present wrapping and a steady stream of exhausting social obligations. Traffic gets ugly. People get irritable. Money disappears quickly. Kids get greedy. Retailers trick you into thinking you need to buy reindeer antlers for your car and the next thing you know the inflatable snowman in your neighbor's front yard is flipping you the middle finger.
Unless you're Charlie Brown this stuff doesn't bother you until you get old and crusty, but if you're anything like me, you're probably thinking I'm too young to be old and crusty! If during the other 11 months of the year I can be merry and bright, why then can't I be merry and bright during the merriest and brightest time of year?
This is where the Lance comes into play. In an effort to NOT BE A GRINCH, I plan to count down to December 25 with posts, contests and a few unusual giveaways that evoke the warm and fuzzies, starting with a Q&A tomorrow with children's singer/songwriter Mifflin Lowe, whose new album Wilton Wilberry and the Magical Christmas Wishing Well is so much more worthy of your attention than Duck the Halls.