Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas All Year Round


Christmas All Year Round

If we push back the lighted limbs in the forest of fir trees and quieten the carolers gathered outside;  if we hold up a hand to delay Father Christmas or freeze Santa Claus stock still on the roof, we can easily remember that Christmas is a religious holiday.  There are those who lose themselves in lamentation every festive season in their belief that this fact has been forgotten.  They tell us that Santa is nothing more than an anagram for Satan, that the holiness of the occasion has dimmed to nonexistence in the neon glare of commercialism and mall traffic.  They even grumble that Christ was actually born in April, thus rendering all this festivity and joy quite ill-placed.  

I recently read an essay by a woman I admire, a writer and thinker who often speaks about faith and religion with coherence and a seeking mind.  In this article, I was dismayed to read her list of all the reasons she no longer, “does Christmas”.  She states,  “I don't like -- don't approve, refuse to throw myself into -- the spirit of obligatory gift-giving.”   She sites the usual soul-stealing culprits here:   the excess, the trivia, Black Friday, Cyber Monday.  And though she still recognizes “faint glimmers” of the incarnational heart of Christmas in our 21st century style, she sees it as nothing more than a “distortion of us as a culture…”, concluding that “… I for one am done”.

Well, with all due respect, not so fast.  Yes, capitalism co-opted Christmas, years ago.  Yes, I find the term “Black Friday” - so widely accepted here in the States as the new moniker for the national Sales-o-Rama occurring on the day after Thanksgiving - frankly repulsive.  The focus on expensive, debt-inducing gifts is disturbing and the break-neck pace of holiday activity is exhausting.  Which is why I choose not to let those more unsavory aspects of the current culture through my front door.  

But oh, I love Christmas.  It is with deep happiness and love that I pick up gifts throughout the year for those close to me in happy anticipation of wrapping them up during the festive season.  I choose to view the first lights that appear, even those hung a bit too early, as tiny affirmations of the joy that permeates this holy time of year.  For those of us who know this joy, to refuse to welcome the season of Christmas with celebration is to concede defeat to a culture that tries at every turn to steal away the beautiful, the unique, and the reverent.  I refuse to allow that.

I did not set foot in a mall this season.  I did not participate in one-day-sales or early bird specials. Most of the gifts I gave were hand-made, home-baked, or discovered on my travels in tiny shops with creaky floors and foggy windows.  The “fiscal health” report on our nation for the holiday season will not include any measurable amount from me.  In fact, the favorite gift I gave this year was for to a friend who adores the poet John Keats.  Whilst in Hampstead in October, I plucked several perfect leaves from a gnarled old tree in Keats' garden and pressed them into a notebook where they rested until I returned home.  I wrapped a embroidered cloth around a board, arranged the leaves in a lovely design, and framed them in an old black forest frame.  Leaves from a tree planted in the grounds where Keats once strolled.  She loved it.  

I don’t mean to be too hard on this lady who has decided to abandon gift-giving along with the other trappings of Christmas.  She has also decided, in lieu of more traditional celebration, to give clothing to homeless teens after all, and that is admirable.  For myself, however, Christmas is not just a season that resides on the December page of the calendar.  It is something that I feel every month of the year.  I have my eye on it in March and July; it wafts in the heat of a southern breeze in August and follows me up over a Scottish hillside in September.  When the rest of the world registers its presence with carols and lights, I am delighted to celebrate openly for as long as I reasonably can.  

A New Year is dawning, with as much uncertainty and mystery as all the others before it.  Will we win a prize in April, or break an ankle in May?  Will a golden sun shine on us in November?  Will the storms of March drive us to distraction?  It is the spirit of Christmas that keeps these prospects, these mysteries, from overwhelming my heart.  That wonderful seasonal delight and joy stays with me throughout the vagaries of an unknown year.  I hope you experience the joy of Christmas throughout this new year as well.  
Edward and I will be here, 
 turned towards the wind with grins on our faces, 
ready for anything that comes.




42 comments:

  1. Lovely thoughts, Pamela. You've got it down exactly right! Best wishes to all for good things in the coming year.

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  2. Lovely thoughts, Pamela, expressed in such beautiful poetic prose! No surprise, though. I, too, keep Christmas all year.....always seeking that perfect expression that will delight those I love. Happy New Year to you, Edward, Apple, and your wonderful Songwriter. Angela Muller

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  3. They say that after time, you come to resemble your dog or vice versa. There seems to be a resemblance here. I wish I looked more like my white standard poodle because her hair is curly. Love your red paisley scarf and your thoughts!

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  4. As lovely a post as the spirit that always seems to guide you, Pamela. I have been reading you for many years now, and you never cease to inspire and amaze me. Here it so Christmas spirit throughout the new year. Many thanks. Penny

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  5. Beautifully said, Pamela.

    The "spirit" of Christmas should be lived out every day, every season. The heightened awareness during Christmas is a state of mind that should motivate each of us to kindness and joy, two things that have crept into society even more since the dawning of more commercialized holidays.

    My husband and I have been off for two weeks from teaching. What a joy to stay at home, read a book from cover to cover, to spend extra time together doing nothing but taking away SOMETHING from one another's presence. Thank you for this lovely post, and you are indeed SO BEAUTIFUL! Anita

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  6. Ooops, I meant to say about kindness and joy that have been pushed out by the commercialization of Christmas! Anita

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  7. Pamela, your blog is one of my top 5 and I'll think of you this year smiling. And, homemade really is the best.

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  8. Lovely for, and from, the heart post, thank you
    Sad that woman gave up. Allowing the materialism of the holidays to sour one's attitude towards Christmas is a stupid/giving away personal power to something one doesn't like. Investing time with love of the holiday season is a wiser choice.
    I've been thinking a lot of how to extend the best of the holiday season throughout the year. As you do is fantastic. I try to do the same, but end up short by November. For the spirit of Christmas, I feel January is he best time of year to make Christmas ornaments.

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  9. Happy New Year, Pamela! Your words always inspire and encourage me. What a beautiful pair you make with Edward. I'm sending you my sincerest wishes for a happy, healthy and joyful New Year.

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  10. Wishing you all a wonderful 2015!

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  11. You are a refreshing breath of fresh air. I needed this. Thank you for your writing.

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  12. Happy New Year to you and yours, Pamela. May God continue to shower you with His abundant blessings and may Edward and Apple experience boundless youth....

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  13. Thank you Pamela for the wonderful perspective that is so heartwarming and full of faith and joy. As in all things in life, we can make the choice to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. All the best to you and yours in 2015!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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  14. Beautiful post. Christmas is a feeling that can be kept all year. I for one have shunned the commercialism and enjoy it so much more.

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  15. Sometimes we don't really see how people can change up on the Christmas norm, and for us to look at it as not being against the best of what we do Christmas for. I am sure your lady friend has had her ears and eyes and soul in the Word of God, which is how we get to know our Heavenly Father. She is demonstrating her love of God. God's greatest gift is to have sent Jesus to save us from our sin, if we believe. Our loving God does not mean for us to think His bible is 90 percent wrong and 10 percent nice. Once you give yourself to the reading of His Word, to which all truth becomes evident, you change in all areas of your life. The cross does that, and also divides. Indeed, Merry Christmas every day! Yes it's possible.









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  16. Yeah for mall-free Christmases! The British tradition is for the Christmas decorations to remain up until 12th night so our tree is still twinkling. Nice photo of Edward and you. Happy new year, Pamela!

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  17. I am with you wholeheartedly. We need to make every moment bright. Life is short and meaningful gifts and celebrations are a wonderful part of it. The most happy New Year to you and to me, Pamela.

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  18. Pamela I enjoyed this well written and thoughtful piece. And I agree 100%. I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for all those wonderful book posts you do. I went back over every single one to make my own list for giving. I enjoy your zest for life that comes thru in your writing. I always come away with something to ponder. Happy New!

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  19. Eloquently expressed. Yes, let's keep Christmas in our hearts and homes all year long. Happy New Year!

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  20. What an absolutely wonderful post The charity of giving to those less fortunate should be a year round thing, not just at Christmas and to make a gift for someone is far more personal and more appreciated than a shopping centre purchase. Love to you all and to those absolutely gorgeous dogs.

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  21. I so agree with your sentiments over Christmas Pamela, and I love that thoughtful 'Keats' present.
    It is a time for thoughtful presents given with love, for gathering with family and friends, eating our favourite foods and generally relaxing. I have really loved Christmas this year and shall not give in to the materialism which tends to surroundit.

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  22. You expressed how my heart feels ..... and I haven't been in a mall in ages..... This year i began my Christmas decorating early, and plan to continue the tradition. I love the house all decked out in sparkle and lights, to enjoy a full two months.

    I too carry Christmas in my heart year-round. I ignore the commercialization, the shopping ads, the frenzy.

    Like you, I embrace the peace, the beauty, the giving from one's heart,
    and the love of my husband along with two precious dogs.

    Happiness for your brand new year Pamela,
    Thank you for the beauty.
    ~ Violet

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  23. Beautifully written, as always!
    Wishing you a Joyous New Year, Pamela...

    xo

    Brooke

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  24. Your thoughts about Christmas and the holidays were an inspiring way to start the New Year, Pamela! I can't think of any place I'd LESS rather be than a mall at Christmas! Our small mountain town has so much to offer in the way of shopping; feels so much more personal, and I try to support our local economy. I respect the opinion of the writer whom you referenced, but I'll side with you. And, like you and Scrooge, I shall make more of an effort to keep Christmas--and its true meaning--in my heart every month of the year!
    LOVE the photo of you and Edward! Thank you!

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  25. Have you and Edward ever entered a Dog and Human Look-Alike contest? I think you would win!

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  26. Pamela,
    One of the things I love most about your posts is that you are able to put the words to the thoughts that I have on a particular topic. Perfectly stated. As a family we drew names and that really took some of the stress out of shopping, which I thoroughly enjoy, whether on the internet on in the mall.
    Happy New Year to you and yours. I look forward to reading your wonderful words each post.
    xo,
    Karen

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  27. ☆.¸¸.•*¨*••.¸¸.☆.¸¸.•*¨*••.¸¸.☆¸.•*¨*.☆.
    (¯`´(¯`´.¸________ღ☆ღ_________ ¸.´´¯)´´¯)
    ☆ ▓▒░ ☆☆ HAPPY NEW YEAR ☆☆ ░▒▓ ☆
    (_¸.(_¸.´´ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ღ☆ღ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ `´.¸_).¸_)
    .☆.¸¸.•*¨*••.¸.☆.¸¸.•*¨*••.¸¸.☆¸.•*¨*.☆. A new year blessing:
    May the road you walk be a smooth one. May your troubles be few if any. May the days and years that lie ahead be healthy, wealthy and many, May you have friends in abundance. May the sun shine bright around you. May the world be a wonderful place to live. And may love always surround you. May you have a joyful new year and many happy years ahead.

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  28. That was so beautifully written! Thank you, I must remember to shop all year and tuck things away and not be tempted to indulge family and friends all year, a bad habit of mine.

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  29. you just grow more beautiful with each passing year.
    your spirit shines through.
    and having a gorgeous white dog in your lap doesn't hurt either.
    LOLOL.
    much love
    and the happiest of new years to you darling three. ♥♥♥

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  30. I no longer despair about the religious Christmas. I love wrapping presents, preferring to find them, like you, all year round. And I remember that the commercial Christmas ends when the religious Christmas begins - in fact, we currently are in the Christmas season which will end on Epiphany, Jan. 6, after 12 days. So, truly, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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  31. Thank you for the beautiful essay.

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  32. I, too, love Christmas. The lights, cards, carols and especially the excitement my grandchildren have. They keep me remembering my own Christmases growing up.
    Thank you for a lovely post!
    Betty

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  33. I have just binge-read your incomparable blog in its entirety over the holidays, and as I as I sometimes fortunate enough to do at the end of a splendid book, I am ready to open the cover to the first page again, and start all over. Also, my Christmas tree is still standing all a-twinkle. It has been a tradition of our family to leave the tree up until after "Old Christmas," a custom left over from my Appalachian ancestors. There was a lovely belief that on the eve of the Epiphany, December 6, that at midnight the animals in the barn speak and pray.

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  34. I''m with you Pamela. I love Christmas! As Christmas seemed to end too soon, I decided I would keep it in my heart all year long. Just like Scrooge learned it should be!

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  35. so beautifully said--i love your wisdom and so look forward to reading your take on life!! plus i think like you.

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  36. Your writing, your smile, and Edward's smile light up all of our lives!

    Thank you for straightening out everyone's thinking about Christmas! (Those who are lucky enough to read your blog!!!)

    Brava!!! So, so lovely!!!

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  37. Oh my gosh - so lovely! So beautiful! So good and clear and right! God is good and His goodness shines through in the clarity of your words! The poor, unhappy woman "thinker" (as you call her) just doesn't get it. I hope at some point the Good Lord touches her soul. Maybe today, maybe next Christmas, maybe even at a sale...

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  38. Thanks for your nice sharing! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you would be a great author.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!