Another Christmas season is upon us, and as your associate minister I have a confession to make. I am not, by nature, a Christmas-y kind of gal. In fact, before I had my son Alexander, I was honestly a bit of a bah-humbug. It's not that I dislike Christmas, I'm just not one of these people that gets overly excited about it. In fact, I'd just as soon celebrate it every other year, as it always seems to come around again too quickly. The truth is, I’ve never been a real fan of Christmas movies, I loathe all the commercialization around the holidays, and I have always been a tad uncomfortable with both gift-giving and gift-receiving. One year when I was in my 20s I really angered my family when I refused to celebrate the holiday altogether, instead jetting off by myself to Club Med in Haiti where I spent Christmas sunbathing, participating in group aerobics by the pool, and swimming in the clear, warm ocean waters.
Then Mr. Alexander came along. In all the ways I am not Christmas-y, Alexander is unabashedly all about absolutely everything to do with the holidays. In fact, around December 1, he begins to pepper his speech liberally with the word “Christmas-y,” as in “Let’s go do something Christmas-y,” or “Let’s go see some Christmas-y lights.” Yes, Alexander is the Elf (from the Will Ferrell movie) to my Scrooge, the twinkle to my bah-humbug. Every year, that amazing child drags me kicking and screaming into the holiday season, and along the way awakens a healthy helping of the child-like awe and wonder of the Christmas spirit in his ol’ mama.
Alexander wants to do all the Christmas activities. He wants to go see the Nutcracker, the holiday lights parade, the lighted boat parade, and the ice skaters on the plaza. We can’t miss Tuba Christmas or the annual train show or a visit to Candy Cane Lane. And at 22 years old, he will undoubtedly make his mama cry when he first spies Santa riding on a truck in the holiday parade and starts waving and shouting, “Santa! Santa! Santa!” He would still sit on Santa’s lap if he could fit, but will settle for sitting next to him and having his picture taken.
And Alexander wants to sing all the Christmas songs. Now you must know that Christmas songs are strictly verboden all year long at Casa Vargas, until December 1. In theory, that is. In reality, I end up giving in to Alexander’s unbridled enthusiasm for holiday music around the week of Thanksgiving, as I begin to hear strains of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and Santa Baby emanating from his bedroom. The same pre-Christmas prohibition goes for holiday movies. No Hallmark Channel Christmas in July for us. In fact, Paco and I are mostly incensed that our beloved nightly Golden Girls episodes have been replaced by holiday movies beginning in October. But as with the songs, the parades, and all-things-Santa, I eventually get on board with the Hallmark movies too. I mean, let’s face it, those movies somehow manage to feel so remarkably cozy and yummy and comforting and life-affirming, despite their canned plots and recurring actors.
God bless my angel-son for forcing me to get in the Christmas spirit each year and to embrace everything Christmas-y. May the children in your own lives—whether your own children or grandchildren, your neighbors, or our beautiful child-lights at UMB—also awaken some of that Christmas spirit in you this holiday. God knows we can all use some awe and wonder and straight-up glee this year.