If I have to sit through another rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” without Mariah singing it, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. Seriously, though, four versions in less than forty minutes and not a single one of them was Mariah Carey. Ridiculous.
Not too much has happened since my last post – nearly three weeks ago now. I made a brief trip to Eugene to work the Florida Georgia Line concert, worked all day long the next day in Portland (including the Ducks’ basketball game at the Rose Garden – I refuse to call it that nasty, blasphemous, other name), and finished up my final week of my first semester at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. So, you know, not a whole lot.
Throughout all the “boring” stuff I’ve been doing, I haven’t really gotten much of a chance to relish the moments. While they were happening, I thought they were fun, cool, and pretty rare opportunities, but not much beyond that. Of course, celebrating one’s last final exam for a semester of school is difficult when one has to work a near-nine hour shift only an hour and a half after turning in said last final. Even so, Christmas is a day away, I’ve cleared the first hurdle of seminary (at least I think so; grades haven’t come out yet), and tomorrow morning, I get to head back to Lincoln City to visit my grandpa. There really is a lot to relish.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experience in seminary thus far, it’s how essential it is to have the ability to make critical observations of even the most mundane thing. Such a practice of casting nearly everything under critical light leaves one feeling a little exhausted and, well, sad. It’s kind of like the feeling one gets when it’s revealed that Santa isn’t real; when critical light is cast onto things we love, joy tends to evaporate really quickly.
I love Christmas. It is right after my favorite season of the year (fall) and right at the beginning of my second favorite season (okay, really, it’s a tie between winter and spring… sorry summer). Christmas means Elf, Trans-Siberian Orchestra on repeat, and the hopeless belief I’ll get stuck with my crush under some mistletoe. It means singing carols that haven’t changed since before Jesus was even born and doing the more-than-occasional trip to admire all the neighbors’ lights. Christmas has so many little meaningful things that combine into one big meaningful time.
This is where the ability to cast things one loves into critical light comes into play. For while I love Christmas, I cannot ignore the consumer problem many of us have during this season. And yes I include myself in this mix because most of my childhood Christmases were all about getting new toys (mostly Legos). Having grown up, though, it’s difficult to see the joy in receiving so many gifts.
No, I don’t mean to rip apart your Christmas on Christmas Eve or to say we should stop buying people things for Christmas or to literally make the presents ourselves. I could never make the ugly sweater I am giving my brother. It’s better for his sake and mine that I bought it. But what I am saying is that the need to constantly buy or have more goes against what I think Christmas actually should be about. Give gifts, sing carols, and check out all the Christmas lights – yes, yes, and yes! But don’t break the bank to do so.
It’s a lesson I’m learning as I type. Since my childhood Christmases revolved around buying stuff for other people, I have a hard time not getting someone a gift. But here again, I don’t think going to the opposite extreme of not getting any gifts at all is the way to solve things either. What I think would help is to refocus on what actually matters come Christmas time – the movie watching, Christmas caroling, and neighborhood-light seeing (and even the mistletoe-ing, especially if you’re a girl and there’s a guy around 5’8” with brown skin and wearing Oregon gear standing underneath it). Those are the things that bring genuine joy.
Unless you broke the bank or put yourself in a financial pinch, don’t rush to take all the gifts back. Give them. But keep in mind that gift-giving is a small part of what Christmas should be about, which is all that other stuff that involves family, friends, and even coworkers. You know, in addition to celebrating the arrival of Jesus (I’ll write more on this one later).
(If you do bring stuff back on Thursday morning, please be especially nice to the people you’re bringing it back to. Thanks.)
And for the love of all that is good, only play “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. Okay? All other versions are terrible. (That one’s for you, Nikki!)