Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December's Real Day: Christmas

Yesterday was December 2. Tomorrow is December 4. And so on. Whoop de doo! Big deal...

The truth is, and everyone knows it, the only real day in December is Christmas Day, December 25. Everything leads up to it. And everything after it is a letdown. Nothing is redeemed until January 1.

We see the big number -- 25 -- and it tells the whole story of December. We always think, "How many days till Christmas? Get us there!" We might ask how many more meaningless days till the suffering's over and Christmas finally gets here. At the beginning of the month it's quite a few, over three weeks, three boring weeks, three weeks of days that may as well not even exist, except for one reason, no one's figured out what to do with them.

A guy hates to say three weeks of his life is simply worthless. Because those days, arguably, could be real life, life and potential that you shouldn't wish to hibernate through just to get to Christmas. That doesn't seem like how we should live. My instinct is to say that every day of my life should be meaningful, worthwhile, and lived to its fullness. But when you have a huge day like Christmas looming there, like a black hole, it sucks in everything around it, even three weeks out. We go inexorably toward it, then afterward we start breaking free of its gravity, and we wonder what happened.

It's amazing then that we have to crawl to December 31 just to get started again with normal life. Even as it itself is something of a semi-holiday, existing as it does right on the cusp of January 1. December 31 and January 1 are like parts one and two of the same thing. Like Christmas Eve -- to a lesser extent, because of the magnitude of Christmas -- and Christmas Day are sort of parts one and two. I like Christmas Eve for this reason, because Christmas isn't over; it's just beginning. But I have something of a problem with Christmas, because it gets here then slips through our hands ... just like that.

We hear how people are very depressed on Christmas. I know how that goes. It's because we tend to shrink in size (mentally, psychologically) the more magnificent our surroundings, in this case the day itself. Then, for all its magnitude -- and this in part is in the nature of the shrinking -- it's still slipping away like any other day. We're anxious! Have we done with the day what needs to be done? Have we done it properly? Are we anything like the Christmastime observers of old that we know from songs, cards, artwork, and memory? So many of us feel like total failures.

Now, of course none of us asked for this. We may not want it to be this way, but there it is. There's nothing we can do about it. The years, the decades, and centuries have set Christmas in place, the dominant day of the month, the black hole at the heart of it, and now the entire holiday complex it's become orders our lives as the month arrives and proceeds. Everything aims toward it, and the residue is full of Christmas leftovers and aftertaste.

This year, speaking for myself, I'm going to try my best ... not to fight back, that's not the word ... but to try to redeem those other days. I might go about it like this. "Christmas Spirits, past, present, and future ... I know you're listening and watching, and want me to maintain my allegiance to your day. I promise I will! But until then, please let me give these other days of the month some small attention. Perhaps, with your leave, I shall read for an hour, then burrow down again in hibernation. Would that be so much? You'd surely agree that's honoring time as well as honoring Christmas. Because I'm letting Christmas approach in its own time, not rushing it, not delaying it. Hoping for your approval,  your humble servant, etc., etc. Amen."

I hope that works out, because for once in my life I want a December that I can remember having lived, apart from Christmas Day. Which is a great day -- Spirits, don't get me wrong! It's just that I'm getting so old and want the other days of my life to be good, too, each one.

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