I love Christmas time
Let me rephrase that…
I f*cking love Christmas time. The list of my reasons is long and I’ve checked more than twice and added things along the way. The reasons on it range from warm childhood memories to music to the smells of Christmas tree and crackling fires and more. The biggest reason I love Christmas time is the pregnant sentiment that sweeps through the streets blowing into people during the month of December. It feels like things speed up, just enough to really slow down.
We have to be more intentional with what we do, be more intentional with how we spend our time. Small humans, who still speak half God, go around reminding all that “you know who” is watching. Which is good. We as adults often forget that. For a month, a moment that feels deep yet brief, all around the world mankind chooses to believe in a fairy tale.
Or maybe it’s a called a story.
Depends on your point of view.
It always does though.
While I was getting my degree one of my favorite classes, I had to take was a Children’s Literature class. My course work in that class was to study fairy tales. It was fantastic. One of the biggest things I took away from that class was all stories, all fairy tales, have an origin story. They came from real life. For example, nearly all cultures have a version of ‘Cinderella.’ Details vary, of course, but a woman in a rush trying not to be late and forgetting an important object appears in each.
As a woman I’m offended!
I’m offended at my own failure to combat this stereotype. Too many times to count have I forgotten my phone, my keys and more when I’ve been in a rush to be somewhere. Fellow women (deep sigh) forgive me.
Over time stories tend to change a little to relate to the culture of the time. Sometimes though, they can change too much and get twisted from the author’s original intent. Alice in Wonderland is a good example of this is. In today’s culture, it’s a story that people often associate with drug use and people who need anger management classes.
However if you looked into the life of the author you’d find that he, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll as he’s better known), suffered from dysmetropsia (which causes distortions in your visual perception) during his teenage years. A bit into his career as a writer Lewis hadn’t been able to write anything for a while and was struggling with depression. In hopes of rousing Lewis’s spirits his publisher invited him to come along on the family houseboat trip.
While on the houseboat his publishers daughter, Alice, asked him to tell her a story. Using her name as the main character to capture her attention, he began to describe his personal strange experiences of objects shrinking or growing, to create the ‘Wonderland.’
I have no doubt the extravagant tea party and chess match which ended with an outburst of anger were also drawn from his personal real life experience. Good artists always draw from their own experience to create art. One can interpret Alice in Wonderland as the story of an artist drug trip. Or, going on the historical facts, it’s the story of an artist capturing the imagination of a young girl while processing his own experiences.
Another story that’s been changed or diluted over time is the story of Santa Claus. Or “Saint Nick” as he’s also referred as. Or “Nicholas” as his parents named him. There is not too much that is known about him. He became a Christian at a young age, when his parents died he donated all their possessions to the poor, and he became a bishop of Myra in fourth-century Turkey.
While serving as a bishop he learned of three girls who were going to be sold into slavery by their father, likely to pay off some family debts. At that time young girls were often seen as a form of currency, a currency which was accepted world wide. Nicholas was moved to use some of the church’s wealth to ransom the lives of these three girls, tossing three bags of gold through the family’s window as payment.
As fantastic of a gift giver as I am I don’t think I have ever gifted anything that good. That purely good. A gift that no doubt was met with an explosion of joyful tears. A gift that literally provided salvation from a horrific fate, the kind of fate that selling a girl to another person holds. As a woman, as a human, I shudder to think about all that this fate might entail.
As a race, mankind has come a long way since the fourth century. Thankfully. Now the buying/selling another person is a practice the majority of us find despicable. The actions of Santa Claus though still inspires us. This is especially evident during the month of December when we exchange gifts with friends and family, the people in our lives that we care about. Despite our best intentions, most of the gifts we give pale in comparison to the gifts “St. Nick” originally gave.
Thankful it’s not a competition. I have no doubt there was a story which Santa Claus also read, one which inspired his own actions and the gifts he gave which brought salvation.
A good story is like that. It, like any good art, inspires more of its kind. As this year, as this chapter draws to a close I’ve reflected on everything it’s held. And I can say with full honesty that I am deeply thankful that “you know who” is always watching.
May we live drenched in joy.
May the gifts we give inspire the recipient and others.
May we live a story that inspires others.