It’s Christmas Eve afternoon here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.
And I’ve decided to stop trying to remember the topic or topics I had in mind last night.
All I remember is that I had more than one in mind, and that they were “slightly more Christmas-themed stuff.” I might not even have remembered that detail, if I hadn’t written it down. Or, more accurately, keyed it in.
I could fret over that lapse of memory.
Since I’ll be 70 next year, I could emulate gerascophobia — it’s a real word — and write an earnest epistle on the virtues of some fad diet or vices of targeted advertising.
But I won’t. My brain is good for quite a few tasks. But rote memory isn’t one of them, and never has been.
So I’ll decide that whatever the “Christmas-themed stuff” was, I didn’t think it was important enough to write down. Or key in. And probably wasn’t worth remembering.
And if I had written/typed/keyed the ideas, recording them in written form, I’d probably remember them without reference to what I’d written.
Which is why I made copious notes during my college classes.
I’d occasionally read through my notebooks before midterms and finals. But after the first academic cycle, I’d learned that writing ideas down as I was hearing them fixed them in my long-term memory. With the occasional panic-inspiring exceptions.
Neither does memory, text anxiety or — a polar Wookiee?!
That bit of weirdness is a Victorian Christmas greeting card sold by L. Prang and Company: a visionary pioneer in a field which has enriched our culture with kitsch.
And made Hallmark productions a schmaltzy symbol for some, a cornucopia of comfort for others.
My attitude is somewhere in the middle.
I like schmaltz and kitsch. In moderation. Which is, I figure, why I enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
But I think there’s more to Christmas than Brobdingnagian bowling shoes and 16-foot self-propelled pins.
Christmas specials, some of them, come closer to the mark with their “and the true meaning of Christmas is” — being nice to neighbors, warm family feelings, something like that.
And one, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” got it right. I talked about the Peanuts Christmas special a few years back. (December 24, 2017)
And probably will again, but not today. Or, very likely, during this Christmas season. Which, since I’m a Catholic, begins today.
Along with a quick look at what’s changed and what hasn’t over the last couple millennia. (December 31, 2019)
What we do each year, and how we do it, matters. But it’s not nearly as important as why we get together and celebrate.
“The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
“For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.
“And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’
“And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
“‘Glory to God in the highest
“and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'”
Linus Van Pelt: [Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
(“15 of the Most Memorable Quotes from A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Katie Robinson, Town and Country Magazine (November 24, 2020)
(Our Lady of Angels, my parish church, second Saturday of Christmas: January 2, 2015.)
The COVID-19 pandemic has made 2020 a memorable year.
My parish church doesn’t have our traditional Christmas tree. The manger scene and ‘starlit sky’ display isn’t up. And I don’t envy the folks who make sure we don’t exceed the allowed number of folks in the sanctuary.
But instead of complaining about that, or indulging in an anguished lament over the decline and fall of everything and everyone — I’ll close with something almost completely different.
Update: Christmas Afternoon, December 25, 2020
My parish’s Christmas tree was up this morning. So was our manger scene and starry backdrop. Dummkopf that I occasionally am, I’d forgotten that they’re not in place until Christmas. Neither was the one in my house. It’s up, too, and that’s something for another day.
(Merry Christmas, with the “Chumley, the Elf Who Slept Through Christmas” TV special.)
It’s now Christmas Eve evening here in central Minnesota, and early Christmas morning a few time zones east of there.
“Eve evening???” That sounds, and probably is, redundantly reiterative. Never mind.
My family, following our customs, opened some of our presents an hour or so ago.
We’re keeping others under the tree, to be opened when a daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter come.
This Christmas is particularly merry, in the ‘festivity and rejoicing’ sense, time for me because I’m here.
My September-October hospital interlude helped me appreciate the daily miracle of living. (October 5, 2020)
I’d planned on talking about that “Merry Christmas” scene, with it’s “Chumley” Christmas special. But that flight of fancy must wait for another day. Or, more likely, another year.
Which isn’t that far ahead. New Years Eve is Thursday of next week. And that’s another topic.
Meanwhile, here’s the usual list of somewhat-related posts:
- “Blizzard: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”
(December 23, 2020)
- “Joy and Shadow, Free Will and Something Silly”
(December 12, 2020)
- “Boston Charlie, Partridges in Pear Trees and Me”
(November 28, 2020)
- “12 Days of Christmas, Plus 1”
(January 4, 2020)
- “Christmas, Octaves and History”
(December 31, 2019)