I don't know why. It's definitely not in my character to break out the boxes and hang the tinsel early, but sometime in mid-November... November 18th in fact, I decorated my Christmas tree.
And then I felt something else out of character. I didn't want my decorations to be... well... ghetto. Not this year. I didn't want lights all strung around every which way, the whites and the greens and the blues and the multi-colored all intermixed and cattywampus. I wanted order and beauty.
I don't know if I'm finally done defying my parents (people rebel in different ways, I certainly can't explain it) or if I was just feeling nostalgic, but that night I knew I needed Christmas although I didn't yet know why. I found out a few hours later. And a few days later and well, who knows really why we need Christmas so badly in our lives. Perhaps because we live in a free country where religion can't unite us so we need a holiday to do it. A big long one cause we're a really divided nation.
I watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada tonight and was reminded of that.
"Thank you God for not making me be born in a poor, undereducated, racist, sexist, environment... or in Texas." I joke about the Texas part (mostly because i'm feeling obstinate cause I know I'll be berated tomorrow for not watching the Big 12 Game tonight), but not about the rest. This movie is wonderful. It speaks so bluntly of the depravity of society and so profoundly of the opportunity for redemption.
Too bad you have to be beaten and dragged through the desert with a dead man sleeping next to you to find it... but it's possible.
"You gonna be okay?" The "villian" calls out to the "protagonist" at the end of the movie.
You gonna be okay?
I think so, I just needed Christmas to come a little early this year.
Technically it gave a little wave back in September when we held auditions for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. And then it began peeking out from behind the pillars during October as we began rehearsing once a week. Now it's jumping up and down in front of me screaming and waving its arms in every direction: Christmas is here! I'm here! Look at me! Pay attention to me! Celebrate me!
Yep. I see you.
And the church needs to pay me more.
I told the director the other day that I've never identified more with a character that I'm not playing.
I sat down Wednesday on the edge of the stage composed of 14 heavy platforms that we carried down two flights of stairs last Sunday, that were painted on Thursday and then "textured" on Friday. I sat down, just like the character does in the play and put my head in my hands.
This isn't going to work.
Actors didn't know their parts, parents weren't participating. "I have spent thousands of dollars on something that might flop."
As if my lame social life and my the fragility of my family weren't disappointing enough, now I might be failing at my job too?
It was time for Christmas to show up.
And it did at today's rehearsal when the kids received their body mics and their faces and their entire attitudes changed as they realized this was it. The real deal. Miley Cyrus watch out. Here come the Baptists.
And it did when I watched Three Burials tonight: a gruesome story of sin and redemption, fierce friendship and forgiven enemies. And I think that's what Christmas is about.
Cause in Christmas you get the whole package. You get the barn and the baby, the poverty and the power, the edicts of death and the prayers for peace. And you know, for as popular as it is to hate the commercialization of Christmas, our culture got some things right about Christmas. Sometimes it's okay to give gifts, even really impractical ones like frankinsense or Chanel No 5. And it's okay to let a child's birth give us opportunity for rebirth in our lives. And it's okay to take the advice of a fat old white man (we've been doing it for years anyway) and choose to be nice over naughty for once. There's nothing wrong with watching snow and wondering if you too could wipe the slate clean. And sometimes, even when you feel like shit, you gotta dress your life up with some garland and white lights. There's nothing wrong with optimism and there's nothing wrong with love. And if you can't get it in a christ-child maybe you'll find it in a christmas tree or the ringing of some bells or in a green grinch or an overgrown elf.
So Christmas came early. November 18th. And I'm glad it did. Cause for all the smiles and parties and presents and spiked eggnog, there's still the hundred feet of lights that you hung up on your roof all by yourself that won't light up. And there's the tear and the sigh and the longing and the wondering sometimes if this is worth all the effort.
Thankfully Christmas answers yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
With a bow, or maybe even an angel on top.