I am really into Christmas.
Not so much in the Messianic sense, or even in the frankincense.
It’s more the egg noggy, mall-Santa, Charlie Brown Christmas side of Christmas that I love. It’s just so perfectly merry.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not bothered by the religious part of it. I just happen to be part of a different religion.
And as a Jewish person at Christmas, I’ve had to mute my enthusiasm some. My wife does not share my yuletide spirit, and it feels deceitful to add my non-Christian self to Santa’s list, in spite of how nice I’ve always been.
My whole life, I’ve kept my Christmas obsession quiet. I’ve hidden my Christmas light under a Christmas bushel.
Instead of putting up Christmas stockings, I wear them under my pants. Instead of carolling at the mall, I just go to the mall with my cousin, Carol. Instead of sitting on Santa’s lap, I – well, there’s really no acceptable alternative to that.
But I have two sons now, and they are growing up fast. They only have a few years left of believing that the world is a place of warmth and good tidings. Why should I deny them the pleasures of Christmas, like some hardhearted Scrooge?
Bah, this year is going to be different! This year our house will glimmer in the glow of the season. This year… I’m putting up Christmas lights.
I just need to convince Mrs. Scrooge.
My wife is a reasonable person. So I figure I’ll start by proposing something unreasonable. Her reply:
“There is no way you are building a nativity scene on our front lawn. What are you thinking?”
I’m thinking that Christmas lights will now seem perfectly reasonable, in comparison to a donkey and an ox.
Next step, baby steps. I try to get her in the holiday mood by changing a few of the lights in the house to coloured bulbs. Really subtle. A blue bulb in the family room. One green light in the basement. A red light on the front porch.
Turns out a red light on the front porch is not subtle. It has kind of an Amsterdam vibe, and my wife is definitely not in the mood.
What’s the point of having kids if you can’t exploit them?
I pile the family into the car and set out to visit the most beautifully lit homes in the city. I figure that when my wife witnesses just how excited the kids are, she will see the proverbial light.
And for a minute, it works. The first house we visit is glorious, and the kids can’t get over it. By the third house, the kids are over it.
I threaten to take Christmas away from them, but that’s how this whole thing got started. Bah, humbug.
December 19thth – Morning
Surely Jesus did not wait around for permission to spread the gospel. (Did he? I’ve only skimmed the New Testament).
Either way, if I wait any longer for the green light, it will be too late for the green light. Or the adorable LED icicle lights.
So, I went to Home Depot this morning without telling anyone. I bought $194 worth of Christmas lights without telling anyone. I spent five hours trying to put them up without telling anyone.
How come nobody told me how f-ing hard it is to put up Christmas lights? Is that in the New Testament? I am frostbitten, frustrated, and tangled up in wires. I am seriously starting to wonder why I bothered to do this…
December 19th – Evening
And then my family comes home.
It is nighttime. I am sitting on the porch, exhausted when the car pulls in. My boys come bounding up the walkway, and… suddenly they stop, their eyes reflecting the simple blue and white string of lights before them.
They take it all in. For quite a while. Our old familiar house, now bathed in a warm and welcoming light. It’s a beacon of the way it has always felt, inside.
I know I will always remember the expression on their faces at that moment, and I dare say, so will they.
My wife steps past them and walks toward me, with a determined pace. I am now frightened.
But without a word, she bends down and gives me the smallest, sweetest of kisses. It’s a Christmas miracle.
Next year I’m putting up mistletoe.