Tag Archives: Christmas

All Lit Up

I have to post a public thank you to everyone who put up Christmas lights this year.  I’ve always enjoyed them, but now I feel so strongly about them I want to ring the bell of every house and pass out hugs like they’re Christmas cookies.  My enthusiasm is the result of our daily afternoon stroller walk to see all the lights as they’re coming on.  (Small aside: in Seattle, you can’t really call 4:30 “afternoon” because it’s dark as midnight within moments, but in a Christmas season with two one-year-olds, this works in my favor for the first time in my life.)

The chorus of sounds that come from the two of them are so effusive, I always wish people were on the walk with us to share in the delight.

Henry: Wow.  Wooooooooooow.
Arden:  Whoa.  Whoaaaaaaaa.
Henry:  Ooooooooooo.  Oh!  Ooooooooooooo.
Arden:  DOGGIE!

There is always at least one dog walker we pass, and for a brief moment the Christmas lights are extinguished while the babies bask in the glow of canine curiosity.  They both have decided that a dog’s “woof woof” is best expressed by puckering their lips and blowing furiously, and this never gets old.

Even though they’ve been doing it for months, I am constantly in awe of their ability to learn new words and concepts.  For instance, I brought them a stuffed Mickey and Minnie from Disneyland when I went in October, and Arden immediately learned to say their names.  So last night when we were out on our walk, we passed a house with a small inflatable Christmas Mickey, and she did the only thing one can do when one realizes for the first time that a character exists in places other than just your house: she lost her mind.  She’s a feminine girl, so we let her continue yelling “MINNIE!  MINNIE!” even though it was very clearly Mickey.  I think his Santa hat was a little too close to Minnie’s usual red bow between her ears.  It amazed me that a yard decoration I would normally consider to be tacky was now my favorite in the whole neighborhood.  This is what parenting does to you.

Tonight, we strolled the neighborhood with our usual glee, but Arden stunned me when we were approaching the Mickey Minnie house but Minnie wasn’t nearly visible yet and she started saying “Minnie, Minnie, Minnie.”  I know she’s smart, but how is this possible?  We were more than a quarter mile from our house, it was dark, and she had only seen this Minnie light once before — how did she know it was the next house?  This is the sort of thing that makes me marvel at childhood development.  Or I’m just one of those moms who thinks her kid hung the moon.  Either way.

Next weekend we’re taking the babies to see the Garden d’Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, and we’re expecting it to be a tiny toddler Oprah giveaway moment.  No one is taking these lights home, but the general reaction should be the same.  The only risk is that our neighborhood lights may seem paltry by comparison, but then again, I’m betting they don’t have a small member of the Disney cast in their repertoire.

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Mas! Mas!

If I were a cheerleader, I’d cheer for Christmas.

Christmas has always been huge in my family — tons of decorations, celebrations, feasts, presents and Christmas Eve church services.  This year is the first Christmas I will spend apart from my family, and we’re a little sad about it.  We know it will be hard to be apart, but we’ll see each other several times before that day.

I’m using this time to examine my thoughts about Christmas, since Mike’s family’s traditions are very different from mine.  I’ve learned a lot about the history of Christmas through them and it’s given me much to consider.  I’ve learned that  Christmas shouldn’t have anything to do with Jesus or his birth, based on the fact that in the Bible neither Jesus nor anyone else says that we should remember His birthday (conversely, we are told to remember his death and resurrection) and in fact, we don’t even know His real birth date.

We can love and honor Christ apart from anything to do with popular holidays.  Rather than try to focus Christmas on Christ, they’ve explained, we should accept that the two have nothing in common and just celebrate it for what it is — good cheer, festivity, presents, family.  In essence, let’s take the Christ out of Christmas and let’s just have…mas.  In Spanish, that would be MORE.

And I’m always all for more.

In fact, I think I’m well on my way to more.  This December has already been decorated with several events that are indeed mas but have absolutely nothing to do with Christ.  Years ago (even last year) I would have felt a twinge of guilt for celebrating without focusing completely on Jesus, but now?  Bring on the mindless merriment!

Christmas Tree: To start our season, we got a tree.  Yes, it’s alive, and yes, it’s the same height as me:  five feet five inches.  We love our tree because it makes our home cozy and cheerful, it holds meaningful symbols (baby ornaments, second grade pictures of Mike, gifts from friends), and it delays us having to buy a new chair to fill the space it occupies.  (If you look closely, you can see a cross ornament…so I guess I haven’t figured this out quite yet.)

After all, Christmas trees were virtually forbidden by our colonial leaders in 1659, when a law was enacted that made any “heathen traditions” such as Christmas carols, decorations and trees a penal offense involving a fine.  We Rephs enjoy setting up our tree without paying a fine.

White Christmas: The same night that we got our tree, we attended “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” musical at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater.  Two other couples invited us to dress up and go out on the town, and we thought nothing could be more Christmasy than the stage version of the Bing Crosby movie (which I had only seen once and Mike had never seen).  It was uncomplicated, plump, shiny and almost too cheesy to bear — and that was entirely the point.  “May your days be merry and bright” indeed!

Tacky Themed Dress-Up Party: Every year we are invited to a number of parties that require an ugly sweater, santa hat, or this year, 80’s ski gear.  The only thing 80’s ski gear and Christmas have in common is snow, I suppose, but we went with it.  The results speak for themselves.

Cirque de la Symphonie: Certainly the highlight of the Christmas season so far was attending the mind-boggling circus acts performed in front of a full orchestra playing classic Christmas favorites.  Mike took me and my sisters to Benaroya Hall and we all gasped our way through this stellar performance.  Previous to this evening none of us had seen a man in a handstand on another man’s HEAD with only ONE HAND.

The champagne at intermission didn’t hurt, either.

White Elephant Gift Exchange Parties: Two of these are on the calendar this year, one of which happened at my workplace — I arrived with a bathrobe and departed with two bags of candy.  Lame.  And what could be less Christ and more mas than giving gifts that are utterly random?  Myrrh and gold are not random; those gifts were intentional, I assure you.

I totally respect those who see Christmas as a holy holiday, because I do too, to some degree.  After 25 years it’s virtually an innate response.  But I love examining why we do what we do, and seeing if we can do it differently and still be honorable.

After all, when it comes to Christmas carols, for every “…the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love,” there are just as many “…oh bring us a figgy pudding, oh bring us a figgy pudding, and a cup of good cheer.”

As for me?  This Christmas I’ll ponder the wonders of His love — while sipping a cup of good cheer.

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