Away in a Manger

We’re having the crew over for Christmas Eve this year, and I didn’t feel right about letting our Christmas bush stand in for a real Christmas tree, so Super Hub bought a new fake tree and brought it home yesterday.  I agreed to put the tree up and decorate it today.

All day long, the box sat in the middle of the room, mocking me.  I should have mopped the floors, done the laundry,  worked on student feedback and a presentation for my Write for Texas job, written this blog post, made supper, sent a holiday email to people invited to the party, made a Christmas card list, wrapped presents, and searched the internet for the final round of presents.  Oh, and put up and decorate the tree.  Here’s what I did instead:

  • Got up
  • Turned on the TV
  • Drank Coffee
  • Watched Dracula (The one with Gary Oldman – weirdly fascinating, kind of like the Jerry Springer show- you know it’s bad but you just can’t look away)
  • Decided I hadn’t watched enough TV and found a sit com to serial watch for two more hours.  It was called Hello, Ladies, if you want to know.  I pretended that it was too engaging to stop watching, but who am I kidding?
  • Read a book
  • Took a bath
  • Made the bed, cleaned the kitchen, did a load of laundry, cooked supper, and put the tree up just as SH was coming home from his Cancer treatment.  I don’t feel guilty at all that he was at work all day and I was home having the fall aparts. Not. I feel really, really, guilty, like put me in the chain gang guilty. But the tree, the tree kept sitting there so smug in its box, and I felt too paralyzed to get up and face the ornaments.

Why is it that this time of year always makes me feel- low? This is hard to admit in writing, and it’s even harder to tell people that I don’t like Christmas out loud. The last time I told someone about my problem, they looked at me like I had just committed an armed robbery at a Convent.

According to the Hallmark channel, and everyone I know, there is something wrong with people who don’t like Christmas. I keep waiting for the other stocking to fall, for God/Santa/ a wise old magical angel woman to school me in Christmas spirit via time travel,having to switch bodies with someone who lives under a bridge,getting arrested,missing my train, plane and automobile, or being left home alone. After my lesson, my heart will grow three sizes and I will seek out opportunities to slog through a crowded mall with grumpy, unwashed people so I can throw coins at them and wish them Seasons Greetings.

I would love to feel another way, I would.  I’m a nice person, I’m thankful for my life, and I generally get along with the world. I keep waiting, but so far no Angel has shown up at my door to earn his or her wings. The three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are probably always going to be problematic for me, because I just can’t meet the expectation of pep associated with socially acceptable Christmas spirit.

But I wonder, if Jesus were here with us right now, what would he feel about Christmas?  I mean, about what it’s turned into?  As soon as the canons of literature and song started to develop around this time of year, the idea of Christmas began to be mythologized.  Take the line from the song, “Away in a Manger,” that I used to guide my thinking for this post.

the cattle are lowing, the baby awakes

but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes 

cow pic for pauser dd low

If the cattle were lowing, that means they weren’t chewing their cuds.  They wanted something, so they weren’t content with their lot.  And no matter what the song says, the baby Jesus cried, because he was a baby.  His Mother and Father might have felt like crying, too. They were very young, and a long way from home. They didn’t have a place to stay, and they ended up in a barn, with dirt and hay, and manure.

The message they brought was one of hope, but it didn’t bang you over the head with candy canes.  Their kind of hope crept in and grew, as the baby grew. It sacrificed as the man Jesus sacrificed himself.  This hope was real, and grounded in love for the disenfranchised, the outcasts, the lonely, the plain, and the bad.  Naughty or nice, we are all on His list.  That’s a message I can get behind.

I hope that none of you, my dear readers, are afflicted with Christmas-itis as I am.  I hope the Christmas Season makes you feel warm and fuzzy. I hope your Christmas tree, turkey, cards, presents, and pictures make Martha Stewart look like a rank amateur.  I hope you love every moment, I do.

But if you don’t, I’m with you.  And I think it’s really going to be okay.