Monday, December 19, 2011

The KISS Method for Christmas -- It's A Gift To Be Simple . . .

I couldn't stop laughing when my sister sent me this photo . . . how creative and yet, I have to won up to the fact that as I gaze at some of the Christmas lighting excess in our community, I would have wanted to do something just like this.  While I think these folks wanted all the next door visitors to have a good laugh, it did indeed make the point that the big electric bills weren't going to be coming to their house.  In this case, as far as their bank account was concerned, simple really was the way to go.

Yet there is also the annual decisions to make when the holiday approaches.  For me, lots of Christmases have come and gone, and for some years we have had the house decorated inside and out.  A couple of years ago my hubby and I were so busy with family and community and church we ended up having Christmas at our daughter's house and didn't even get the Christmas tree out of the closet--yet, we do have an artificial tree.  I guess I'm one of those "save a tree" people in a very real sense, but I also remember the annual "pain in the vacuum cleaner" we had every year growing up when we were trying to vacuum up all the dead tree droppings off the living room rug.  I will admit I missed the tree.  I have some old fashioned, Dickensonian houses that I have accumulated through the years and we did put those out on the book shelf, but I missed the tree.  I love Christmas trees.  One year I left ours up until April . . . it was almost an Easter tree that year.

But there is also that part of me that knows that my faith is rooted in the belief that Christmas is really not about presents and commercial sharing.  I want to do my part for our nation's economy, and I do like getting a present or two--who doesn't?  Yet, there is that reality that most of the time hubby and I are getting things for each other all year, and at our age, what is there that we really need?  He's always buying me jewelry that he thinks I will like, and I am always trying to find clothes that will delight him.  He isn't a clothes horse by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that he really gets a sparkle in his eye when he puts on one of his beautiful suits, picks out a cute tie, and "gussies up."  At Christmas--and his birthday is also five days before Christmas--trying to find something he really needs or wants is very nearly impossible.

Now our family does the annual name exchange, usually one of the daughters puts us all together with a drawing just after Thanksgiving.  We include the long-distance parts of our family as well, knowing that it means that they will probably not get our gifts to them until after Christmas.  However, we Americans don't pay much attention to the "Twelve Days of Christmas" which, by the way, begin on December 25.  So we always soothe our sense of "being late" with the fact that the gift will arrive sometime during those twelve days.

Last night, on the Family Channel, we watched "The Polar Express" again.  What a great story.  I remember when we went to a little church annually, not far from our daughter's home, the priest always pulled out that book and shared it with the congregation as his Christmas Day homily.  It is about believing in those things we can't see--friendship, caring, and even in the spirit that is Christmas, whether or not we refer to that spirit as "Santa Claus."  It was a fun reminder that keeping our holiday observances close to those kinds of realities--the ones we can't see--that will make the holiday live in our hearts.  For Christians it is about remembering whose birthday it really is.  For Jews it is about a faith that carried them through a time of great persecution to a victory over their enemies.  And for many others it is about remembering that our loved ones and friends, our authentic relationships are what keep us grounded and focused on realities that make us truly human.

It is indeed a gift to be simple--as the old Shaker hymn reminds us.  I trust that this will be a gift we can all claim this year.

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