As I peer out my window, only the melted remains of our short snow flurry decorate the lawn. No snow-flocked trees or fields of untouched snow lie around this house. Lights festoon the houses around us, and a few yards proudly display a lighted angel, inflatable snowman, or plastic nativity scene. White is not the color of winter. No, in the Northwest the colors are green and grey. Green for the bare trees, grass, and abundance of pine needles. Grey is, of course, the color of our “lovely” sky—no matter what time of year. Whoever wrote the song “Christmas in the Northwest” and claimed that “Christmas in the Northwest is a child’s answered prayer” must have grown up on the east coast or Midwest.
The other day a friend babbled about how she eagerly anticipated Christmas then turned to me and asked, “don’t you?” Sadly I smiled and she continued in her ravings.
I tried to think why Christmas holds so little charm for me. Perhaps it is because of things I have lived through or seen. The young boy and girl who light the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve while their parents fight down the hall. The elderly lady sitting in the corner of a family gathering with a tear dribbling down her cheek, remembering the year before when she celebrated with her beloved. Or maybe it is the scenes I cannot help but imagine. The hundreds of children around the world who desire nothing more for Christmas than a mom and dad to love them, and to hold them when they cry—but sit alone in an orphanage, weeping. The couple murdered on Christmas Day because they dared to share the real reason for Christmas in a country closed to Christianity.
I cannot help a feeling of disgust at how consumer-istic Christmas has become. Greedy little elves daily watch their pile of presents grow under the tree and cannot think of anything besides what Santa will bring. Do you ever wonder what the original Saint Nicholas would have thought if he could see what kind of legacy he left? Not one of giving to those who are needy in a hard time of year, but one of demanding stuff from others. Not gratefully receiving a flashlight, new pair of pajamas, or book from your parents, but demanding the latest iPod, the newest car, or coolest designer jeans. Funny, last year’s gifts gather dust on a forgotten shelf.
Three neighbor kids bounce into my house to play with my little brother. Of course, the topic of the day is Christmas. Immediately one of my neighbors interrogates Daniel as to what he wants from Santa. The poor little man sits speechless, not wanting to offend my misled neighbors by telling them that Santa does not exist, but not wanting to lie about what he “has asked for” at the same time. If you ask the average child what they want for Christmas, they will rattle off a long list of toys, CDs, electronics, or clothes. Ask them what they are thrilled to give to others, and the look of surprise mixed with chagrin crosses their face.
My wonderful customers daily add to my distaste for the season. The man who fumes over the fact that we do not sell Peppermint ice cream. We only carry Dark Chocolate Peppermint. Or the mom who bustles in to order a cake for her child’s birthday the next day. Of course one of the readymade cakes is not good enough for her “pumpkin”—she must have a custom one built, frosted, and decorated that day. Upon informing her of how impossible that is for us to do, she glares at me and announces “well, Baskin Robbins could do it!” As if that morphs our cake decorators from “normal” teenagers into super-humans.
Running to the grocery store, I often bump into ill-tempered persons who glower at everything and everyone in sight. Constant activity adds to daily stress which drivers take out on the person who cut in front of them. Of course, they turn on the radio and sing of how it is “the most wonderful time of the year” as they honk at the fiend in front of them.
However, stretching at my feet, the little yellow lab puppy reminds me of the good thing about the season—the new life. Usually we associate new life with Easter. However this is the season in which the most wonderful new life appeared among mankind. We celebrate Christmas because thousands of years ago, Jesus Christ was born as a simple peasant boy in Bethlehem. His simple parents laid him in an animal’s feeding trough, and celebrated with the animals. What a difference between the first Christmas and the ones we celebrate today.
Now I must venture out onto the slick streets and brave the fierce Redmond drivers. Making it to my destination without causing someone to swear will be a miracle. Not because I am a bad driver, but because everyone—EVERYONE—is so stressed out right now. Let’s deck the halls with bows of holly, tra la la la la. And remember that silent night so long ago.
After all, it IS the most wonderful time of the year.