Wednesday, 21 December 2011

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

I´ve never really been a huge fan of Christmas. Don´t get me wrong, I like the giving that represents God's gift of Christ and sharing food with close friends and family. I like the cold weather and the tree and the decorations and traditions. I even like Santa. He´s a great story. I also like the Grinch and that Fa-la-soy-boo song they sing at the end while holding hands. I really like holding hands. The problem is that, all of these individual fancies don't combine into one big general appreciation of Christmas for me. For a long time I thought I was jaded for whatever reason, or that my Christmasy wire was loose... or that my heart was two sizes too small.
This year I've been doing a lot of thinking. Jon says it's the commercialization of the Holiday that I don't like. That may be partially true, but even if you took it away - if we didn't participate in the gifts or the decor or watch Snowman Burl Ives singing Silver and Gold - I don't think I'd feel better. Drastic measures are worthless if you don't fill that spot with something, and most the time it's a spot that can be filled without removing the "problem." Like I said, I like Santa and presents and lights.
Just after Thanksgiving, Nathaniel and I were running errands. I busted out the only Christmas music on my phone and listened while we drove around. It's a concept album called Behold the Lamb of God, The True Tall Tale of the Coming of the Christ by Andrew Peterson. I've heard this album dozens of times. I also don't cry often, but by two songs in the floodgates were open. Why? One of the contributing artists made a comment in reference to the album. He said "It's not really so much about Christmas as it is about Jesus." Its about Jesus. I know, I know. Baisic. So baisic I hardly ever think about it. For me, the Jesus of Christmas has been so intertwined with everything else that the real story is barely there anymore. I for one, would like to take a break from Frosty and shopping malls and take a moment to remember the true story. The real Christmas.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Eight Stages of Creative Gift Giving

1. Make a list of people you want to give gifts to. Add a few more because you're just a dripping with generosity. Ignore the fact that in a few months you will have to mass produce personal, meaningful, and hopefully inexpensive bits of wonder that you've harvested from the depths of your soul.

2. Realise that Christmas is 6 weeks away so you might want to get this process moving, if you want to avoid finishing the gifts for people on Christmas day/in January. You shudder slightly and divide your list into "must gives" and "maybe gives".

3. Take an afternoon and surround yourself with inspiration. Get you coffee or whatever and start thinking. Last year you shot a little too high and ended up not even making most of the brilliant gifts you thought of. This year, try to think up something that is both mass producible AND personal.

4. After hours of research into how much book rings and card stock paper cost en mass, settle on the MOST BRILLIANT CHRISTMAS PRESENT IDEA THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN!!!!!!! It's funny and personal and can be made cheap enough to send to every single person on your list! You are a genius my friend! Revel in the fact that all your friends are probably going to be asking you to make more of said gift to pass on to their friends! You might even become famous! (You feel slightly guilty about obtaining fame from something that is supposed to others-focused, but you don't mind too much.)

5. Begin production. It takes hours of writing and rewriting, making and remaking, thinking and rethinking, but you don't mind in the slightest because you are CREATING! You are forming little bits of love to give to all of your favourite people and they are just going to melt with gratitude!

6. Continue production. Okay, this is taking a little longer than planned. You start to wish you could do something different today. You start kind of disliking your once brilliant gift. You've already watched an entire season of Doctor Who and you're mad they changed the actor to that skinny, dorky guy so you have nothing to pass your time with.

7. Give. You finally wrote the last note, curled the last ribbon, and addressed the last package. You stare at your mountain of presents, ready to be sent. You should feel happy and satisfied right now but you don't. You start picturing people's faces as they open them and you project your current feeling of dislike for the gift onto them. You hear them say "Uh, thanks! This is really, um.... neat."and are flooded with insecurity and a little bit of self loathing for thinking such a dumb idea was going to turn out well. You consider burning them all, but you've already told some people to expect a spectacular gift from you and there's no way you can think of something better at this point. You drive, wincing, to the post office and drop them all off, swearing that you'll never create again.

8. Take heart my friend! You might feel like poo right now, but I'll bet when you wake up in the morning tomorrow you'll at least be happy it's done. Then some people will start getting their gifts and thanking you and tell you in a genuine, honest tone of voice that they really like it. You might not get famous, but you gave something to every friend you could think of, and went only slightly over budget, and Heck! That's something to be proud of! Happy Holidays!