Sunday, December 7, 2014

This Christmas: Getting in the Mood

[Drafter's Note: I started the This Christmas series back in 2012--but, apparently, forgot about it last year. The idea was to get me thinking and writing more about this holiday I love so much, whether I'm feeling the love or not. So here we are again...]

Greetings, fair bloggy visitor! Thought I forgot about you, didn't ya? I'll be honest, it was kind of nice taking a few days' break--though, to be fair, I have done a little writing and a little revisioning in the interim, so I haven't totally fallen off the radar... Just the radar you can see... Which is pretty much the radar.

But I digress.

This post has been rolling around my head, and I finally decided to get off my duff (or, really, sit down upon my duff, but with purpose) and write it. It's December, which means holidaytime. For me, Christmastime. And for whatever reason, things have just aligned this year where I was ready and eager for some yuletide goodness. I was playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving (don't tell my grandma), I had my office and home decorated by the second of the month, and I cannot wait for payday to drop a good chunk of change on specialty groceries for baking goodness.

But, listen, I get it. There have been Decembers that have come and gone and never seen me really get to that place of contented, shiny holiday happiness. And I hear the voice--I have the voice--that says that we should grow out of this, that we should be mature and embrace what the holidays are really about: spending too much money, having parties with people we don't like, standing in line with hopes of hearing "store credit," collapsing back at home with the one or two loved ones we can still stand by New Year's.

And so, for you who are feeling a little too old for Christmas this year, I present to you

Chandra's Go-To Get-in-the-Mood Playlist:
Dean Martin, "A Marshmallow World"
A Muppet Christmas Carol, "It Feels Like Christmas"

Jason Gray, "Children Again"
[links to YouTube for your listening enjoyment]

Traditional, choral Christmas music is gorgeous, I won't argue with that. But my only beef with it is that most of it comes off as somber, funereal--boring, for lack of a better word. Beautiful, yes, but hardly anything to get jazzed about. I like little better than being snuggled up with snow falling, reading a book to the harmonic tones of "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" and "Ave Maria." But if you're looking to feel the thing, you need something with a little more of a pulse.

I love Dino. He had to make the list. If the holidays aren't the holidays without a drink in your hand, Dino's your man. Tell me he's not three or four in for this track.
I love Jon's song because it's realistic, true-to-life, but with that glimpse of special, even in the everyday. Sure, it's just weather and lights and music, but it's more than that--"Children wait for Santa to come / While the older ones bite their tongues-- / They can feel the magic in the air."
I love the Muppets... because they're the Muppets, for pete's sake, but also because they are allowed to cheese it up, and Christmas--any joyful celebration, really--requires cheesiness. Fact: to truly enjoy yourself, you need to be willing to look like a fool. Another fact: if you're truly enjoying yourself, you'll scarcely notice.
And Jason (mayhap I've mentioned my love for Jason's Christmas album before?) hits on what it boils down to, for me, anyway: that the wonder of Christmas is, indeed, something we grow out of, but every Christmas is another opportunity to take off our grown-up cynicism and put down the to-do lists and embrace the joy, the innocence, and the dependence on God that makes us children again in the best possible way.

Still not feeling it? A couple thoughts:
  - Sometimes it's just that kind of season. A few years ago, I was just plain annoyed about it, but I just could not jump-start my Christmas spirit. I don't know why, exactly, though some theories surfaced as the month went on. What I found myself doing, though, was taking the little bits of joy as they came, and embracing the magic of Fake It Till You Make It. No, I was never overwhelmed and besotted with Christmassy glow, but in the going through the motions--making gingerbread or singing to carols or whatnot--I found some glimpse of it that I wouldn't have otherwise. Children play pretend.
  - Resistance isn't futile. You can stay distant. You can elect to remain a grown-up. It's not a bad thing--grown-ups are good for a lot of things, and every once in a while I'm even happy I am one. And you can make it through this season--"surviving the holidays," as I saw on a poster this morning--without a hint of child-like wonder. It's absolutely possible. Not recommended, but doable. Children are terrible at a lot of things, and maybe it's more important to be good at those things. I'll pretend to understand.

I challenge you to embrace a little wonder, though. I challenge you to be a kid, just for a minute. How often are we allowed to anymore, really? Take advantage. Wear that Santa hat to work. Play that music. Bake those cookies (or just eat someone else's). Sing along.

'Tis the season, after all.

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