The thinly veiled Christianity. The rampant consumerism. The accusations of "grinch" or "scrooge" lobbed at those of us who are less than appropriately festive. The Secret Santas and Yankee Swaps planned in multi-religious offices nationwide. The Salvation Army bell ringing. The Christmas muzak in every building. I spend most of December vacillating between mildly annoyed and supremely over-stimulated.
As Wifey and I danced through our courtship, the issue of religion was only periodically discussed. Mostly we ignored it. See ... Wifey was raised Catholic and then Episcopalian. She likes the rituals. The music. The physical space. The community. While I was raised with no religion, and churches make me anxious - because I'm bound to do something wrong.
Periodically the issue surfaces, primarily when it comes to raising Little Man. We've resolved many things, but we're primarily in a holding pattern.
But much to my dismay, I'm starting to slide. Give in. Relent.
But much to my surprise, it's not that I'm turning a blind eye. It's coming from a different source entirely -- Little Man.
Earlier this week, we bought a tree. It's a real tree (don't even get me started on that), and Little Man thought strapping a tree to the roof of the car was absolutely hilarious. Then we brought a tree inside the house -- "that's SO silly" said he. Soon after the lights were strung, he began to understand that we were decorating the tree. "Wow! Those are pretty!" When the box of ornaments was opened, he jumped up and down screaming "hooray" "wow" and "mommy look at this one!" He immediately grasped the hook technique and the ribbon technique and the spread the ornaments around the tree concept. While Wifey polished the snowflake tree topper, he asked "mama, what are you doing?" at least a dozen times.
In the presence of such incredible joy, it's hard be critical. Granted, our tree is primarily decorated with squirrels, elk, snowflakes, birds, and the occasional cultural symbol (the peace sign), and we're not focused on the gift-giving aspect of the holiday. But at some point soon, Little Man will hear about Santa from his friends, and they'll start comparing piles of holiday booty. At some point soon, my little boy will be corrupted.
In the meantime, experiencing Little Man's festive joy has caused a little pain in my chest. I think my heart has grown a size.
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"
And what happened then?
Well ... in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he ... he himself ...
The Grinch carved the roast beast.
Apparently Dr. Seuss and I have something in common.