02 December 2010

a caramel christmas. but first: shouting.

I have one more way to interpret that original questionwhat is it about a little bit of light that fills us with such wonder this time of year?

It's the Hallmark Channel interpretation. The Hallmark Channel brings the Currier and Ives print to life and then plays it on repeat from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Lifetime does this, too, and I think ABC Family is also playing Christmas movies non-stop.

The Hallmark Channel symbolically represents the all-Christmas-all-the-time view that has taken over, and it makes us think that Christmas is about more.

For the entire month of December—no, let's admit it, the Christmas "season" starts before Thanksgiving and perhaps even before Halloween in some stores—there's a shouting match for our attention: BUY MORE, SPEND MORE, DO MORE, BE MORE, MAKE MORE PERFECT MEMORIES, EAT MORE, DECORATE MORE.

We start to think we must make room in our hearts for Jesus—and room above the hearth for a 52-inch TV. Because if we don't buy that as a present, then we don't really love whoever thinks they want that.

If we're not careful, Christmas can become nothing but noise as we listen to those shouts for our attention and money and time.


Christmas is a time when we can more distinctly feel the pull in disparate directions.

The spiritual. The familial. The shopping-al. {Not a word, I know, but I liked the parallel I had going there with the -al. I guess I could've used the word financial. Eh, too late to take it back now.}

The last thing you want to feel during Christmas is stretched so thin that people can see through you, and that is why I encourage you to approach Christmas as if it were caramel this year.

Yes, caramel. Because:
  1. it's malleable: I'm going to sound really trite here, but Christmas takes on whatever shape you give it. You don't have to stick with certain traditions, and you can buck expectations {especially self-expectations}.

    You don't have to craft your own Christmas cards and have them mailed by the first week in December—if you don't want to. You don't have to decorate—if you don't want to.

    You can watch every Christmas movie ever made—if you want to. You can give up something for Advent—if you want to. The point is to shape Christmas as you want it.
  2. but it can also be hard: Hard as in difficult or hard as in rigid. The difficult part we don't need to get into: holidays come with baggage, even if you don't travel anywhere {lame joke}. Let's look at the rigid, as in rigid boundaries. It's important to put up a good fence or wall or some other kind of protective barrier around what you want to do to enjoy Christmas. This may mean that you don't say yes to every party you get invited to—but instead say no knowing that you shouldn't socially max yourself out.

    It's okay to say no sometimes. Some people have trouble believing that, particularly during the holidays when you're supposed to be happy and friendly and cheery all the time, at all costs to your own little soul.

    Because of your little soul, trying hard to truly celebrate Christmas, you do need a bit of a hard edge to your boundaries.
  3. it's made out of basically one ingredient: Christmas can be simple: friends, Jesus, family. What's the one thing about Christmas you enjoy so much?
  4. but you can make it more complicated by adding other things to it: Please scroll back up to the part where I talk about how it's okay to say no to stuff during the Christmas season. When you start trying to please everyone, from your boss to Martha Stewart to Good Housekeeping, you start losing track of how Christmas is supposed to be fun.
  5. it's a challenge to get just right: I don't know anyone who's figured out the best Christmas balance and been able to stick to it every year. Every year, we all need reminders of how to truly celebrate without wanting to slowly pull our own teeth out because that might be less painful than this blessedly exhausting holiday season.
  6. but when you do, man, that's sweet: Literally sweet, in the case of caramel. And in the case of Christmas, you know what moments I'm talking about. The little or big ones where everyone gave a contented sigh at once. The time when you were little and you woke up at 3am on Christmas morning, peeked through the curtains, and saw a bright shining star that looked like it could be the Star of Bethlehem. Whatever sweetness is to you, look for snatches of it this Christmas.
  7. and even if you don't get it right, you most likely still have a good story about you leaning too close to the pan, staring at the sugar, waiting for it to turn the right auburn color, talking to it and demanding to know if it's done yet: Not to sound too much like your mom here, but you can always learn from bad experiences, and later, you may even be able to laugh about them. A bad Christmas does not mean you're a bad person with a bad family and bad friends and a bad dog and bad hair. It just means that you get to try again next year to have a good Christmas.

Merry Caramel Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Great post Kamiah. For some reason I feel like I am letting myself and the world down if I don't produce handmade glorious
    Christmas cards. But this year I finally committed to simplifying - and produced a postcard online instead.
    The big problem I have now is not buying anything else for Colin. I already have enough - and I know his friends and family are going to be more than generous. But every time I walk into a store, I find something else I know he'll enjoy and I really struggle with not buying it. It is difficult, as a parent, to not give everything to the person you want to have everything!



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