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Finding just the right size.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Finding just the right size....
After the past week, I can say, with reasonable certainty, that I am done with capital-C, capitalist Christmas.

Let me start with what I don't mean. I had a long-deserved reputation for being capital-C cranky this time of year. It was part inheritance from my father and part circumstantial from years of academia (finals almost always consuming me up until the 24th or close to it) and then years of financial uncertainty (often not knowing how much I'd have to spend on All The Things until the 24th or close to it). For years, Eleanor, and then Emily joining her, picked up the slack. But Emily doesn't live here anymore, and as Christmas Creep has now made Eleanor's place of work a non-stop holiday machine for close to two months, she's tamped it down. Last year, we didn't decorate at all, and this year, I did what decorating got done- not for me, but so the kids would feel the presence as well as the presents when they got here.

Which, as you know, they eventually did. They did so surrounded by plenty of giving, for this was one year when I was blessed by some earlier-than-December-24th successes and could go all-in without financial worry or the chain-ratting of my father's Christmas Past. But because of Emily's Christmas Eve/Morning illness, they were late in coming and the celebrations, when they did get here, were muted.

In hindsight, that worked out just fine for me:)

We also passed on the full Christmas Eve of religious festival experiences at our church. It's one of the two major liturgical days of the year when the congregation welcomes back all the prodigal sons and daughters, puts on spectacular showings of music and verse, and passes the plates for what is usually the single biggest offering of the entire year. Our church, despite aging/declining membership and a near-perpetual funding crisis, put on a major Christmas Eve concert event with dozens of professional orchestra members in addition to the choir, followed by a candlelight service with similar musical trappings. All was crowded, all was loud- as it should be for such a celebration...

Unless you're me. We were home, listening to similar songs, first on the local classical station and then some more upbeat and eclectic versions on Jazz.fm. We had no need or desire to be part of a large audience, relegated to folding chairs in the back.

Rather, for me, the religion of Christmas came today- in the same place, but under much quieter conditions, and I think more Christian ones.


If Christmas Eve is the height of liturgical excess, the Sunday after Christmas is its nadir. The choir, and our music directors, get the day off after their hard work three nights before. The two services become one, and attendance can generally be counted in the small dozens. But the decorations are still up, the hymns are still carols, and there's a rare intimacy among those who take this moment away from the bustle of it all. Rich hit on the significance, quoting a litany called “Now the Work of Christmas Begins” composed by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost,

to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry,

to release the prisoner,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among the people,

to make music in the heart.

Eleanor wasn't present for that, but she was present in the spirit of it. At 7:30 this morning (while I was still having dreams of being served in a supermarket meat department by Transporter Chief O'Brien #dontask), she was already up, out the door and loading in a car full of provisions for Emily and Cameron to take home. Including a turkey breast, which she's been roasting for them all morning to give them some more options for their kitchen than the unsettling ones that brought her down three nights ago. She's also writing down recipes and other suggestions to help them make and store these foods. Emily welcomed the help, and we hope it will go a long way toward keeping her in not only good cheer but good overall health as the New Year comes. We also gave them, not only the Wegmans gift cards my sister sent them, but also the one she sent to us, so they will have an easier time keeping up the efforts once the Care package runs out.

In the coming days, they will head home, the tree will come down, and we'll get back to what passes for normal around here. We will be trying to keep the most important things about Christmas with us, though- just another way of thinking outside the gift box.
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mac_arthur_park From: mac_arthur_park Date: December 29th, 2014 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really loved this. Thank you.
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