When I was young, my Mom was diligent to include Swedish traditions as well as a few of her own special things as part of the the month leading up to Christmas. Things like sweet rolls and tea on St. Lucia Day to opening our presents on Christmas Eve. She kept reusing this crappy cardboard advent calender that despite it's condition, still kept us kids in anticipation. We did the advent candle thing every morning during our morning devotions. The candles were ugly within a week, the base was an old log from the woodpile my dad cut in half, and the message was mostly lost to us; but we still fought over lighting those candles every day. And we never believed in Santa, but my parents would never admit they had put the oranges and toothbrushes in our stockings.
When I was a teenager I swore I'd never let the Christmas spirit die. I'd always have a tree, I'd always buy a lot of presents for the people in my life, and I'd always make sure I shared my joy with everyone I came in contact with. Now that I'm a cynical thirty-something Gen-X'er, a lot has changed. We didn't even do a tree this year; no presents either. And I only started saying Merry Christmas today. I'm annoyed with all the stuff I started this post with, and even more so with all the religious quacks who use this self-declared holiday to ruin more people's idea of what Jesus came to earth for, than any number of Santa's or Happy Holiday's cards ever could.
But even though it sounds like I've gone to the dark side, that couldn't be further from the truth. In the wise wisdom that thirty years brings (yes, sarcastic) I now see that the special feelings of the season are different to everybody. Mine are expressed to me through the many blessings in my life that I'm so very thankful for. I'd like to share some of them with you.
*My beloved wife. The exact match to my life, my heart, and my soul. The one person that I've allowed to look into my cracked shell and see the disgusting insides. The one person who can make me laugh no matter what. The one person I can go to for entire and complete support. The woman who trusts me as her leader and receives as her lover. The best person in the world. I love you.
*I'm thankful for two amazing parents that tried to bring me up the best way they knew how, and never stopped loving me as I fought their efforts every step of the way. I have been so blessed to have them in my life, and ache for the day they won't. Besides my wife, they are easily the best gift God ever gave me.
*A great circle of friends. These people are the reason I haven't slipped into depression and slid off the planet. They make me laugh at themselves and myself. They provide for me the desire to be exciting and the need to be calm. Friends make the world worth living. I am blessed to share this season with more friends than a guy deserves.
*Tobacco and beer. There are few more wonderful things that God allowed man to discover than the many varied applications of malt and barley and hops, and a pipe full of good leaf.
*America. For all it's problems and issues, the country has allowed the world an opportunity to be anything it desires. And it has allowed me the same opportunity. God bless America.
*Fresh snow. Yes you heard me right. But not just any snow, I'm talking about the pure white stuff that Jesus must have been envisioning when he coined the "as white as snow" phrase. It was that same snow that covered my neck of the world last night. The same snow the quack weathermen said we weren't going to get. It's the stuff that's allowing us to have a white Christmas and not a muddy brown one.
*Music. The one thing that can spark joy, anger, spirit, angst, laughter, tears, and pure ecstasy all within the beauty of a single note.
*A job. Even though I'm not happy now, I still have one.
*A house. Ugly and dirty and in need of repair. But it's ours, and it's served us well.
*Nieces and nephews. Bright little sparkles of light in a bleak future.
*My Volkswagen's. I hate those things sometimes, I really do. But they still do what I need them to do. They make my life turn on their happy little wheels.
I'm sure there's more, but those are things in my head this morning. Thanks for reading and thanks for not giving up on the season. You need it and it needs you. Happy Season.