I saw a video of a bunch of adults behaving like idiots at a Black Friday sale of cell phones at a Walmart. I was really sad that the word Christmas was even associated with such behavior. I don't want the world to think that is how Americans act, and I don't want anyone to think that sad commentary on human nature has anything to do with Christmas.
I decided a long time ago that Christmas has very little to do with giving or receiving gifts. I love to find presents that seem perfect for loved ones. But Christmas is so far beyond that process. It is, for me, a magical time that has to do with a story about being loved. A story about the gift of hope. Even the story of Santa isn't about possessions, it is about a magical guy who loves to bring a surprise to children. He doesn't make the latest cell phone up north. Or a tablet. Or even Chanel #5 with Brad Pitt on the box. He makes toys, and delivers them around the world because it is fun to give children a treat. And because there are a lot of children who need some help believing that life is full of hope and love. It isn't the toys that give them message, but done right, it is the knowledge that someone cares about them.
The whole question of how much is enough, and how we can fill that hole of insecurity that drives our commercial world is one that strikes me as really worthwhile. How can I make that point in my children's books without preaching? How can I somehow come to terms, through my characters, with the notion that I am enough already? That I have enough already. That nothing I can buy will keep me safe from the uncertainty that fills our airwaves and consumes our awareness.
No one I know is immune to the siren call of a buyers high. I find myself eying the latest and greatest, thinking I need this or that. But I don't. If I did not get anything new at all for years, I would still have everything I need.
The things I love most about Christmas are the intangibles. The family singing carols together. Getting out the decorations and reliving Christmases past with loved ones who are gone, or times when life seemed simpler and easier mentally, if not physically. Times when the dancing eyes and warm hugs of our children were magic enough. Baking the goodies that transport my senses to the magical place of good memories. Sitting by the fireplace and looking at the tree, saying it is surely the prettiest it has ever been. Which is kind of funny since it is stored in a bag and assembled each year. But this year's tree will for sure be the prettiest we've ever had.
I love Christmas. And I want to remember it as it was intended. Hopeful. Generous. Shining with a soft glow of memories. But as more than a time gone by; as a chance to live today with a purpose. Tomorrow can take care of itself. Christmas for today is about sharing with those who do not have enough, who need the gift of love or food or clothes or toys to help them feel the hope. It is about giving our hearts to the people we have been given to love. And, about the peace that fills our hearts and minds because we know that we are loved beyond measure.