I was ready to create a new Christmas post—something I try to do every year—when I came across a binder that contained the following piece that I wrote, four years ago, for my extinct—and utterly obliterated—Amazon blog. Reading it, I realized that it said everything I want to say to you about this most magical of seasons. (Thanks to my 2007 self for doing all the work!) So here it is (with some minor editing): a cyber-angel to top the Creation Point tree.
How exactly does it happen? One minute it’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving gallops past, Madison Avenue starts shoving Christmas commercials down our throats—and I find myself feeling impossibly older, wondering how another year could have gone by so blindingly fast. I’m not remotely in the mood to deck any halls, let alone start shopping. It may not be “Christmas—bah, Humbug!” but it’s certainly, “Christmas? Not yet!” And then, suddenly:
I’m channel surfing and happen upon the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol (on TCM, of course)—and, instantly, I’m eight years old again: staying up late on Christmas Eve with my father and sister, watching both the ‘38 and (far superior) 1951 versions of ACC, which one of our local New York stations would play, over and over, all night long. (At least that’s the way I remember it. And the memory has more resonance than the reality, right?)
But it's not 1961 any more—and I’m sitting there, alone in my living room, completely enchanted by a story I’ve seen and read dozens...possibly hundreds...of times. How is it that each new encounter with A Christmas Carol—each moment of dread and hope, terror and redemption—feels utterly new? When it’s over (and by this time I’ve been joined by my wife and daughter) I sit there smiling: soul uplifted, utterly content.
A couple of days later, my wife and I go out and buy a Christmas tree. We angle it into the hatchback, head home, and the car starts to fill up with a distinctive scent of pine. That extraordinary smell goes straight to my heart: the next thing I know my eyes are thick with tears and I realize, without a doubt, that it really is Christmas.
Of course it wasn’t the scent of that particular tree that touched me so deeply, it was the scent of Christmas Itself: every Christmas I’ve ever lived through, every Christmas that’s ever been. The spirit of this season—when we celebrate the descent of God in human form—somehow transcends time and place, culture and religion, and calls forth the best of who we are as human beings on this planet. I can try to analyze it, but, really, it’s magic.
So no more grousing at commercials, no more ranting at Time for ripping through my life at warp speed. No, I’m going to breathe in the pine, plug in the lights, open the doors of our home to friends and family—and invite the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to join us for a feast of the heart. I’m going to embrace the magic of Christmas and let it transform me.
May it transform you, too—and may we all carry that magic into the New Year and use it to transform our world in amazing and miraculous ways.
©copyright 2011 J.M. DeMatteis