As I was driving home from the grocery store yesterday, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" came on the radio. "You can't beat a classic," I thought, tired of the pop versions of holiday favorites that make the airwaves these days. And as I listened to the lyrics, I realized that I'm dreaming of more than just a white Christmas. Chances are good that it will be a brown Christmas in Minnesota this year—a thought that doesn't sit well with me—but I'll take something else in return. How about a drama-free Christmas? Or a debt-free Christmas? Perhaps a Christmas in which people who feel sad find peace, those who are grieving feel comfort, and those who are fighting diseases turn the corner.
It's not that I'm depressed these days. It's just that as an adult, it's impossible to avoid the darker side of the holidays. You can't overlook the fact that for many people, this time of year falls short of magical. So yes, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas—but also a simple Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. I caught a glimpse of it in my daughter's eyes this morning as we toured "A Day in the Life of an Elf," an animated holiday display at the big Macy's store downtown.
As we took in the elfin scenes, Lulu stood in quiet awe. The magic was tangible. These were the elves she had read about, the reindeer from the videos. And Santa Claus was just around the corner. My darling girl spoken nary a word, and as we led her toward Santa, she oscillated visibly between terror and glee. She was unable to verbalize the items atop her Christmas list—a toy car and something for baking cakes and cookies—but I could tell that she was happy.
My childhood memories of Christmas are simple. Trying to stay up all night to catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf. Singing in the church nativity program in a homemade angel costume. Perusing the shelves of the small-town Variety Store for the perfect gifts for my parents. Sledding down the monstrous hill at the college at alarming speeds. And the cookies. Ah, the cookies. Enjoying gingerbread men, chocolate-covered cherry cookies, and other family favorites, with no concept of nutrition.
I don't think it's possible to have a ___ (insert desirable quality here) Christmas, just like the ones I used to know, but in the absence of perfection, I can be more appreciative of the here and now. I can be thankful for the love, for the people, and for the imperfections. I can be thankful for the whole messy lot of it, challenging as some of it may be. And most of all, I can be thankful for the gift of two small children through which to live vicariously. It's the perfect excuse to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas again.
If you are struggling this season, I wish you peace, love, and comfort. If you are happy, I hope you'll go above and beyond to spread the good cheer! If you don't celebrate Christmas, then I wish you the happiest Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or Festivus.
I Want to Know
Do you have vivid childhood memories of the holidays? What kind of Christmas are you dreaming of this year? Is it going to be a white Christmas where you are?