It is that time of the year where people can make a choice about how they are going to handle the season. It does not matter what religious practice you have, we are all affected by the trappings and pressure of the holidays. But there is so much more to this time of year if you look.
The sky turns dark very early at this time of year. As much as I hate driving now in the dark, I love holiday lights and decorations. Our little village goes all out and puts lights in all the trees. It makes it like driving through a faery town. They decorate our Village Hall and the park across the street. The canal goes right through town and the lights bounce off the water adding to the sparkle. We got married at the hall on a short flight of steps with a huge window overlooking the town.
Lots of people got out this year to decorate while it was sixty. It is still warm here and no snow, which is just fine. But because it has been so nice, lots of people put stuff up early, including me. I put my angel out and decorated the front of the house.
Our front window always has lights in the plants. I add my pink deer and my Christmas tree, which is also decorated in pink and white lights. You can see them from the street. I am still working on the tree as I have a lot of lights that need to be replaced.
But think that makes the holidays the most special are the children. I do not have my own children and this time of year makes me feel the most regret of that fact. It was not my choice at all, but the combination of a selfish ex-husband and nature. And why are children so important at this time of year? Because they remind us of magick and wonder. Look at a very young child looking at Christmas decorations.
When I was very little, one of my early memories is of the town where we lived in on Long Island was holiday decorations. Back in the fifties, there was no “you can’t put up Christmas decorations because of religion.” Matter of fact, the Jewish population sometimes had the best displays. But in town, the Catholic Church was across the street from the Episcopal Church we attended. Both churches had fabulous light displays. The Catholics had these huge golden angels that were lit from the inside of them and they literally glowed with ethereal beauty. I was mesmerized by them. When I found my angel three years ago, I was transported back to those memories of wonder and great childhood joy. (My angel is tiny compared to the ones from my childhood.) But in both cases, they remind me of the true meaning of the holidays which is love and renewal of spirit.
Every year for the past three, I get the privilege of being Mrs. Claus to the best Santa that ever donned a red suit. My co-worker makes the act of playing Santa part of his ministry. He grows out his own beard which is mostly white and when he puts on the suit and bells, you swear you are in the presence of St. Nicholas himself. And you are. Jim’s love for this role goes beyond just “playing Santa”. He loves, truly loves people and children. The suit is just an extension of him and allows him to do what he loves the most. In the past, I have worked the room, gotten children’s names and passed out cookies. This year because I cannot stand for two hours, I got to sit next to him and pass out our little goodie bags. We went into a husband and wife shtick, which everyone seemed to love. And because I have been doing this for a few years, the repeat kids are used to me. So I get hugs now too. Matter of fact, one little girl who was afraid of the Big man, was very comfortable with me holding her as she talked to him. What an honor.
And yes there were some kids who were greedy. But our Santa does not focus on the toys. He asks the kids about school and their lives. And because he knows the parents who are co-workers, he has prior knowledge and that really amazes them. And yes, there were disbelievers in the older kids who came with their siblings. But you could see in their eyes, even at twelve and thirteen, a little doubt in their minds.
Enjoy the beauty of the season. Spend some time with children if you can. It will help you to remember what this is about. Turn off the news; matter of fact, turn off the TV. I do not find that watching Michelle Obama dancing makes me feel at all joyful. Light some candles and listen to some holiday music. Read to your kids. We drive around at night and look at lights or we watch our DVD collection of old holiday movies like White Christmas and The Christmas Story and my extensive Hallmark collection. And yes, I have a Christmas Manger on my mantle. And it is there because it reminds me of the good memories of my Mother who would do fantastic Christmas presentations on our mantles. I honor her every year this way. This collection has been in the family since 1941.
This to me is what the season is about: family, children, tradition, and wonder. The magick of the season is in the hearts of us all if we take the time to look. Step back from the shopping and the stress of making everything perfect. Take the pressure off yourself, because that is not what it is about at all.