Slow down and enjoy ChristmasWhen that special baby was born in Bethlehem some 2,000-plus years ago, do you think those wise men, sheep herders, angels and innkeepers ever dreamt that his birth date would turn into Black Friday, shopping malls, Kris Kringle, candy canes, flying deer, frosted cookies, stuffed turkeys, red neon wrapping paper, pint-sized elves, Ebenezer Scrooge, Bing crooning in White Christmas and way too many sips of eggnog and spiked apple cider?
By: By Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
When that special baby was born in Bethlehem some 2,000-plus years ago, do you think those wise men, sheep herders, angels and innkeepers ever dreamt that his birth date would turn into Black Friday, shopping malls, Kris Kringle, candy canes, flying deer, frosted cookies, stuffed turkeys, red neon wrapping paper, pint-sized elves, Ebenezer Scrooge, Bing crooning in White Christmas and way too many sips of eggnog and spiked apple cider?
No, but then again Dec. 24-25 is not really his birthday anyway since he was probably born closer to July, September or even October, and it certainly wasn’t a white Christmas, especially in Bethlehem where very moderate temperatures make it a little tough for snow to pile up high enough to form a giant bank around the old barn or stable.
Still it reminds me of when I moved to Pasadena, Calif. some years back and was greeted by Christmas day temperatures in the 70s and New Year’s Day temperatures in the 90s and wondered how I could have moved myself so far away from the snowy traditions of my North Dakota youth (lighted palm trees?) not realizing that I’d actually moved myself closer to the traditions of the real Christmas past, at least climate wise and that Christmas could be pretty good wherever it was.
Yet, it shows how far off the mark we’ve shot these many generations later, but that’s OK because anything that makes Christmas even more special is AOK by me, unless we busy ourselves to the point of exhaustion at the expense of a real, authentically wonderful holiday revival and miss the main point; kind of like turning a Tahitian vacation into something more akin to working on a Louisiana chain gang, or a hot air balloon ride into a nose diving plane crash, a medium rare steak into well done gristle, a five-year marriage into a bad blind date and a size 2 dress size into a tent-sized moo-moo.
Especially if you consider what Helen Steiner Rice, the American writer of religious and inspirational poetry meant when she said, “Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas everyday.”
Well it’s a little hard to drive 100 miles per hour all the way from North Dakota to California, sprint from here to Killdeer, hold your pool table above your head from now until next Tuesday, tell your wife you were at the gym for five hours when it was actually the bar, especially if you don’t even have a membership, and live Christmas everyday if it’s nothing more than a mad rush to get things done, because the pace will kill you quicker than controversy kills a Herman Cain candidacy.
So you better slow down and not dance so fast
Because time is short and the music won’t last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry throughout your day
It’s like an unopened Christmas gift, thrown away.
Life is not a race, so do take it slower,
Then you can hear the music, before the song is over.
— David L. Weatherford
Easier said than done, you say.
Well, when I was a kid we’d slide, sled, slip, race, rumble, toboggan, tumble and topple down Homer’s Hill, a street we renamed by the skating rink only a half block from grandma’s house and goodies, bundled like mummies for hours at a time on snowy Saturdays and Christmas Eve.
Later that night, notes from “Silent Night” would soar through the rafters of my hometown church to join both fireplace and candle smoke, mingling amongst the treetops as we trudged through crunching snow to gramps and gram’s house on Christmas Eve, which was totally saturated with the smell of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, lefse and lutefisk, swimming amongst a sea of bright lights, bright eyes, great gifts, good times and giggles.
After which came the anxious rolling in bed, unable to sleep, waiting for the sound of those rumbling hooves on the rooftop just above me, replacing those of the squirrels, which never came, even though St Nick had been tracked on radar by the 10 o’clock newsman, and yet he always snuck in, that crazy guy, way before 6 a.m. (but I could never stay awake). Oh, the magic of it all.
So let’s face it, the gift of Christmas is a truth so wondrous and amazing, a gift that still glitters so long after all the others have become abandoned and boring that it surprises us even more, the more we unwrap it, to the point that even we can’t possibly mess it up.
Christmas brings remembrance
Of family and friends,
And the importance of our sharing
A love without end
Anything else is just...anything else. So slow down a little, keep it simple and savor it.
Holten is a freelance writer and cartoonist from Dickinson.