Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chill Out This Christmas

Remember when that guy who called himself Vanilla Ice ripped off Queen's song "Under Pressure" with his one hit song "Ice, Ice Baby?" My fifteen year old self was shocked back then when I realized the copy, but I still secretly liked the new song too. What's tricky about remaking art in all forms is that sometimes the remake ruins the meaning or message of the original.

This is what modern society has done to Christmas. It's hard to avoid that feeling at Christmas that sucks the joy out of you and leaves you exhausted. This week I feel overwhelmed, to say the least, with things I have to do, attend, make, prepare, buy, etc. I've been running around for the past few days trying to get everything done. Meanwhile, I can feel myself slipping off the point a bit. Next thing I know, my five year old is telling me to "Chill, Mama."

On Saturday, we go to my grandmother's house in the Poconos. My aunt, who lives next door to her, is throwing her a party for her 85th birthday. On our way there, as we're entering the mountains, the landscape changes abruptly. It is so shockingly different and beautiful, that I pull out my camera and stick it out the window. (Don't try that while you drive.) The picture (shown here) doesn't do the scene justice. It is like we're driving through an ice world; it's shimmering in the sunlight. All of nature is frozen solid because of the altitude. It is stunningly beautiful, and so refreshing, after seeing miles of barren trees and grey ground. In an instant, nature changes perspective.

Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, is a time when people are invited to change their habits of thinking. If we're looking for the beauty of Christmas and finding only frustration and disappointment, maybe a perspective adjustment is necessary. Seeing this beautiful ice world really brings that point home to me.

It is my job to walk my grandmother over to her party. She's busy with the usual routines: feeding me and my family this huge spread for lunch, loading the dishwasher and cleaning the sink. Meanwhile, my aunts are calling me on the phone telling me to get her over because everyone is waiting. Then grandma goes into her room to get ready. I feel bad rushing her. When we finally walk into my aunt's den, a jazz band plays Happy Birthday. All my grandmother's cute lady friends are there, and many family members. Four generations honor Grandma, because she is a very special person who has given of herself completely to her friends and family her entire life. She is shocked, to say the least, and glassy-eyed all night. "You are very important person to me, grandma," I say, as we hug. She grabs both my hands, obviously moved by the night's event, and replies. "You don't know how important you are to me." It's been a while since I saw grandma 'choked up' with joy. This is what Christmas is all about, honoring Jesus through loving one another.

If you click on the first story I wrote on this blog, in March, called "Save the Homemakers," you'll see a picture of my grandma.


Putz said...

boy you can sure tell you were once, and in your heart still are an english teacher...I ARE an english teacher, here me roar...your writing, unlike mine is concise clear understandable, while i seem to confuse muddle and you scratch your head, but that was always my goal anyways

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Beautiful, right on!

KD said...

That is one nice thing about being here in Taiwan for Christmas. There are many Christians that are here so there are a few Christmas trees and lights but nothing ostentatious or obnoxious. Very refreshing. I hope you enjoyed your Pocono experience at least and you know the faces on your kids' faces when they see that Santa has been there will be well worth it.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


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