Fall and the Moon of Radical Change
Sunday gratefuls: Snow. 8 degrees. More Snow, more Cold drooping down from the north, screaming in later from the west. Rigel and Kep. Kate. Our dialogue about doing things together. A warmer day yesterday. Happy Camper. Safeway. Ruby.
A light Snow, crystalline, falls outside. The temperature has dropped to 6 degrees. We are in a belt, once again, that could get up to 12-14 inches. Any amount of Snow and cold comes as a relief, not only here on Shadow Mountain, but also for those affected by the East Troublesome Fire and the Cameron Fire, well north of us, up in the Rocky Mountain National Park part of the state. I hope it’s enough to douse them, or at least bring them under control.
My favorite coffee mug has the Polar Express on it. I got it when Kate and I took then 7 year old grandson Gabe to an evening on board a Christmas train. He remarked, “We don’t celebrate this!” and huffed at the whole production. I got mad. Couldn’t he back off and enjoy the elves coming through with hot chocolate? Nope.
Gabe is not an observant Jew, even now several years later at the age of 12. But, he held fast that night. I admire it. I can say that now, but then, I thought, you ungrateful little killjoy!
You see this coming, right? What was really going on there? I loved Christmas. I loved the Polar Express. I did not associate it with Christianity by that point, but Gabe certainly did. Christmas is the great temptation for Hanukkah kids. Partly why Jewish children do so well at Hanukkah these days in terms of presents. Look! We have 8 days, they only have one night.
Not Christmas. Nope, Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. Not Silent Night. No Christmas Tree. No Santa Claus. No The Night Before Christmas. A clear demarcation line between them and us. Kate and I that night were them. Gabe defended his faith and his culture. Again, good for him.
Fast forward to a Hanukkah at our house a year or so later. My knee replacement had just happened. I was home but medicated, morphine. Big pain.
As Ruth and Gabe went through the stack of presents on the coffee table, I was hit with a sudden wave of despair. What was I doing here? Why was I celebrating Hanukkah? I’m a Christmas guy. How did I let myself get into this?
The same kind of holiday dysphoria, I think, that Gabe experienced on the Polar Express. Huh. What goes around, comes around.
Since that moment, which passed as the morphine went away and the knee healed, I’ve realized the exasperated finger needed to point back at myself. Both incidents indicated a deep longing, a childhood longing, for a holiday I knew as mine.
I love Santa Claus, twinkling lights, hot chocolate, candy canes. And, yes, the Christmas Tree. I don’t love the hassle of the Christmas Tree or the materialistic orgy. No. That was easy to leave behind. What are the presents for anyhow? Proof of love? What kid needs that? Or, at least, what kid should need that?
The whole mishmash of mistaking parental love for the giving of gifts let me walk away from Christmas. Kate helped of course because she got tired of decorating MY Christmas Tree. Can’t blame her for that.
I don’t need the whole crass side of Christmas. Neither do you, I imagine. Maybe nobody does.
But. Boy, do I need the songs and the lights and all that stuff about Santa and the North Pole. And, the Tree. This year I’m going to pick a Lodgepole in our yard as my Christmas Tree. No, I’ll not cut it down. Maybe I’ll find a living Evergreen Tree to have inside, a small one.
Its that Evergreen connection that makes religious sense. Evergreen, a resurrected God. See? I’ll continue this, but I want to post now, so I can get breakfast before my time with the ancient ones.