Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How To Have A Perfect Christmas Season

"Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore. Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more."
Maybe my favorite part of the entire Christmas season is the way it brings you from over here and those people from over there and cups everyone in a hand of warmth and laughter. Everyone notices the cessation of the normal petty annoyances. Maybe society is given a larger measure of patience than usual and a wider scope of who one considers family. I mean, everyone is so nice and jolly and just dickensian for once in the year. Either way, I am grateful. From extra guests at Thanksgiving to friends trekking back and forth from Florida; from people I love huddled around a hasty meal to dear friends crowding a bonfire to flip gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, I am grateful. From a gal driving an hour in monsoon-like weather to build gingerbread houses with me to researching how Christmas is celebrated wherever a child's fingertip lands on the globe, I'm eating it up and trying to gather these moments forever. I want to be able to bring out a host of warm, pulsing memories every year as I bring out the ornaments that will one day hang on my own tree in my own home: the little bear, the pine-needle heart, the plastic hedge-hog, the blown-glass garlic clove and carrot and wrinkled walnut, and painted eggs.

We seem to have this weird preoccupation with creating perfection in during Christmas. But think about Bethlehem for a moment. Nothing about that first, holy night was perfect except the baby lying in the rough-hewn, straw-filled manger. Except the adoration of the people crowded into the stable. So much of the time one can manage to waste all the joy of Christmas in trying to perfect things - the cookie icing, the guest list, the seating arrangements, the gift wrap; things that never reach perfection except at the expense of more important things. But you know what feels pretty near perfect to me? Falling asleep while watching Elf with my family. Covering up fallen-asleep friends with a plush blanket. Rolling back the sunroof of my car to watch stars. Making homemade marshmallows with a friend, or eating gelato while haunting a Christmas tree lot. Sitting by a bonfire long after all the handy words have been said, just watching the coals and feeling how alive we are. Debating the point, hand-washing dishes, sharing food, scaring each other in the dark. Saying goodbye at an airport, crushing into a hug all the final things you don't verbalize. Slapping royal icing on a collapsing gingerbread house and wondering where the other half of the roof got to. Stirring the umpteenth cup of cocoa on the stove and watching a marshmallow send a silky sheen over the liquid. Listening to a piping, juvenile voice sing the words to an old Christmas hymn. Coloring slowly, savoring the way the pencils slide across to fill the white voids.

More things. More and more beautiful, joyful things. Walking instead of driving. Secrets. Eating too much of the leftover candy. Coming home to fresh-baked cookies. Saying "Merry Christmas," to everyone you meet and learning how to say it in other languages in case you run out of English. Finding out the tiny little stockings at the coffee shop are free, or that the shop lady is willing to find a tiny box - just the right size - and wrap it in beautiful red paper with a pert white bow. This is the perfection of Christmas: being together with each other, being together with God. Emmanuel: God with us. Rest in that joy. Rest in that perfection. And your Christmas will be perfect.


  1. A lovely reminder, Rachel!!

    Your gingerbread houses are so cute, by the way. :) (Just curious, when do you eat them? In my family, we're all kind of confused about when we're supposed to do that. XD )

    Have an excellent day!


    1. I'm not sure there IS a right way, Liv! Obviously if your house crashes, eat that baby up. But if it sticks around and looks awesome it'll probably get too stale to eat anyway, and in that case I just say leave it up as a decoration!

  2. I love gingerbread houses. I made mine homemade and it was lovely . . . then it died. Looked like an earthquake hit it. We got photos, and I was disappointed, but I was also giggling hysterically. And it tasted good so. I tend to be a perfectionist, and I have all this things that I want to do (I must Christmas with all my power!), but I need to loosen up because I don't like rushed things and strict list following.

    1. Oh my! Well, gingerbread houses seem to be that kind of thing! This one happens to be pretty durable but I was very surprised!



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