I had all sorts of plans to review Christmas books in the week preceding today and do my first giveaway of a Christmas story written by a friend of mine and expostulate on my ongoing Christmas crisis. Clearly, none of this happened, though I still do recommend that you pick up a copy of The Firflake by Anthony Cardno.
This is my first Christmas away from my parents. I'm married now and we must split the holidays between Marckettas and Maurers, New Jersey and Wisconsin. I've only been out of New Jersey once on Christmas before, though I was still with my family.
It's not bad. I find myself comparing traditions - they're not so different, though the food is - and trying to come to terms with my Christmas crisis. A Christmas Carol helped with this. I bought the book years ago but only got around to reading it this year. Parts of me found Scrooge not so different from most of us around Christmastime - he's greedy, self-serving, concerned with things more than anything spiritual. The difference is that he doesn't expect somebody else to give him what he wants. In some ways, it's respectable.
The Cratchits, of course, showed me what Christmas should be: family, togetherness, gratitude, generosity. Not Pillow Pets and gift labels and long lists of "I wants." It's a shovelful of chestnuts bringing joy, rather than some cheap toy that will be forgotten by the next Christmas.
Of course, none of this gives me the answer I'm looking for. Yes, I want the Cratchit family Christmas but minus the poverty and plus the gifts but without the greed. Crafts, yes, but how do I send my child off to school saying "Santa brought me a hand-painted ornament and box of cookies"? The stuff aspect is inescapable if you don't want your child to feel unloved compared to his spoiled classmates. Hence the crisis.
I'm feeling odd for Christmas day, in case you couldn't tell. I started reading Rebecca, because that's what I brought with me on the trip, and it's fitting my state of mind perfectly thus far. Beautiful language, a little wandering, no apparent point yet. I'm just tumbling up and down the hills and valleys of the words and appreciating them for what they are. If only I could do the same for Christmas.