It is a sad confession to say that I am a fan of those cheesy Christmas movies. I know, they all have the same basic plot,
some guy/gal is highly successful in the big city. For some reason they have to return to their hometown or some quaint village where they grow to love hot cocoa, fresh cookies and meet the love of their life.
Everyone has some holiday-themed name like Holly, Nick or Mary. They find the reason they have to stay in the small town, but not before they first they save it from some evil doer.
The only flaw in the movies is they always contain some grand moment or event which totally changes their outlook on the holiday and life. Plots like saving a parade, the North Pole remains intact, or Santa is ready to pass the reigns of his flying sleigh on to an offspring.
These grand gestures, while inspirational are also the movies’ greatest flaw. I have had the opportunity to enjoy well over 60 holiday seasons, and as much as I can say I always wanted that ta-da moment, they never seem to happen.
As a child I have many fond memories. Starting the season out by getting out the holiday records was always great. Going to the local grocer to find a tree was always a special treat. And helping Mom make cookies was also a very special chore. I used to volunteer to help and I learned a great deal. Now, I wish someone else was available to handle the baking.
I remember one year getting a sleek-styled bicycle, I thought that was pretty cool. Another year I received a robot whose eyes lit up and he could talk. Sadly, his voice was quickly muted by a 7-year-old’s attempt to make a dial that goes sideways go in and out. It didn’t matter, it was a great toy anyway.
There were years where it snowed so we played and made snowmen, there were years it was warm and dry and we played football. There were great meals, lots of family, lots of gifts and plenty of fun. But that grand occurrence never happened.
I assumed when I got older I would witness that great moment. Surely, once I was a dad, that great moment would happen. There were many times I spent the better part of Christmas Eve laying in bed next to my son, trying to calm him down so he could get to sleep. There were also many hours spent assembling toy cars, bikes, and racetracks, all of which didn’t seem fun then. Christmas mornings came with Dad behind the camcorder getting every detail. And even though Santa worked diligently to get everything a little boy might ask for, there still was never that plot-twisting moment which changed the course of the holiday forever.
There are some small holiday moments I will always remember. As a youth, we always spent Christmas Eve with my uncle and his family. One year we would go their house, the next we would host. I always enjoyed the evening because we had snacks and getting to hang with my brother and cousin was one of my favorite things. I also enjoyed the ride home listening to carols on the radio and hearing radar updates on Santa Claus.
In adulthood, my wife, son and I would all head to Blue Springs to spend the night before Christmas with my in-laws. It was always a large rowdy group with food and fun. Again the drive home was special, taking Highway 7 south back to Harrisonville I remember looking across the landscape and dreaming of things to come. Of course, the carols were still on the radio and there was again a little boy in the backseat seeking updates on Santa.
Of course there are all kinds of traditions. I still make cookies. There’s still the Christmas carols, there’s still food and family. But despite all of those things, I still cannot think of a single event which changed my life or was anything close to a holiday miracle.
So I guess I have always been much like Charlie Brown, wishing for holiday magic and seeing only commercialism. But maybe the truth is that one stunning moment doesn’t really exist, but what does is a culmination of a lifetime of memories, thoughts that patched together create a beautiful holiday mosaic. Perhaps, instead of wishing for the big things, its far greater to enjoy the small things.
Sadly, the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, is almost totally lost these days. I find it sad that you can listen to a whole afternoon of Christmas tunes on the radio and never hear one with any religious connotations. We live life the best when we know Christ is the reason for Christmas.
One last note, please wear a mask, it may be more important now than ever.