Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, December 18, 2009

Desperately Seeking Sanity

by Kerry Blair

It’s 6 AM—22 degrees outside—and I’ve already been up for more than an hour. My mother has the flu. My checking account has about $1.28. My dog has “returned” the plate of sugar cookies she snarfed last night. Verily, it must be Christmastide.

Each year I envision my holiday springing forth like a picture-print from Currier & Ives. Every year I invariably find myself in a production that has clearly been written and produced by Tim Burton. My favorite aunt—she of the double doctorate in deviant psychologies—explained this phenomena to me yesterday in great detail. I would enlighten you masses in turn, but after the first thirty seconds or so, she began to sound very much like an adult voice from Charlie Brown’s wonderful life.

I do, however, remember how the lecture ended. She said, “With all you have to do for so many, it is no wonder you dislike Christmas.”

Dislike Christmas? Me? Not a chance! Being a card-carrying whiner by nature, it is my sworn duty to Grinch around a little, but my heart isn’t in it. Sure, I should be dismayed to have more tinsel on the carpet—and the cats!—than on the tree, but I can’t help but find it rather festive. Perhaps I should be embarrassed to have a kitchen countertop stacked mile-high with ingredients, and yet nothing to take the neighbors. But I’m thinking that if I pick up half a dozen wooden spoons, I can take everybody on the block festive little bags with jars of marshmallow cream and bags of chocolate chips—family memories in the making! (Besides, nobody can deny that fudge tastes best warm from the pan, right? Cut out the middle man, I say!)

Also, I am always better educated after Christmas. If not for my little niece, I would never have known that there are more varieties of Baby Alive in the world than there are actual babies. And I’m not the only one who is wiser. My brother learned just last night that it takes two hours (minimum,) a top-of-the-line computer system, and a degree from MIT to download and install the software required to operate the Dora doll his second daughter covets. Talk about a tender mercy! Give me Baby Alive, any day! I’ll even wipe the chemical “whoopsie doo” off her little plastic bottom before I’ll undertake computer programming. (Side note: I know the kind of people who market these things, but who in the heck thinks them up? And why?)

I sincerely wish I had a great segue here into the “true meaning of Christmas.” Something that would warm the cockles of your heart, if not edify your very soul. But I don’t. That’s what Christmas itself is for. Let its spirit sneak up on you on little cat feet . . . okay, you’re thinking I’m hitting the ol’ eggnog, but what I really am is totally distracted. I’m sincerely trying to blog here, but from the corner of my eye I’m watching a cat stalk the little needlepoint baby Jesus for the six hundredth time this season. Jesus never puts up much of a scuffle, but the cat lives for the game that ensues when I attempt to get the doll back. I enjoy the chase, but even more I like to let him get away. Then, a little later in the day, I am sure to be surprised when I come across the Christ Child replica hidden in the wrapping paper bag, deep in the tree, or behind the cat bowl. (If you think our game is sacrilegious, please accept my apology in advance and know I’ll repent just as soon as I believe it’s warranted.)

You know what? Think about it. Isn’t Christmas very much like the game I play with the cat? Don’t we all get buried under cookies-andwrappingpaper-and tinsel-andprograms-andparties-andbills-andservice-andmovies-andtrees-andprojects-andpresents-andlights-andSantas-and all the rest? But then—often when we least expect it—don’t we come upon a little glimmer of meaning in there somewhere? As dedicated as I am to whining about all there is to do in the next week, I am even more dedicated to the belief that we really can find Christ in everything to do with Christmas. Always. We just need to look.

What is your favorite secular part of Christmas? Since pageants aren't secular, mine would have to be Santa Claus. Or maybe all the lights. (Prescott is Arizona's Christmas City, you know. Everybody come visit!) Or maybe it's shopping for toys. I do love to shop for toys. Or maybe it's the carolers. Or all the cheesy Christmas movies. Or. . . never mind. You tell me yours and maybe I'll shut up!


At 12/18/2009 10:27 AM, Blogger Janice said...

I like to shop for toys now that I've discovered Amazon.

I love experimenting with fudge. I love the orange fudge, cherry chocolate fudge, coconut fudge, mint fudge...mmmm fudge.

I also love the music. I bought a collection of Christmas piano music for my husband and then gave it to him the day it arrived. I also let him play first. I love being able to gather everyone around the piano and sing Christmas songs.

I love the lights and decorations and my children's good behavior. Christmas is great. What's not to love!

At 12/18/2009 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, I really needed this today - I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed myself.

At 12/18/2009 12:06 PM, Blogger Laura said...

If I felt guilty before I read this, I'm positively a deviant now. I abandoned all ouside-of-family gifts this year. Not on purpose, just by neglect. My visiting teaching partner took pity on my craft disabilities and offered to make something fabulous to share.

But I do love having my two-year-old girl scream "Chrismas Lights!" as we drive down the street. Even at the stoplights.

And nothing beats watching my kids have a jam session to the radio Christmas music.

At 12/18/2009 1:12 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

One of my favorite secular things is that a neighbor nearby always over-decorates for the holidays. It almost always looks like whatever current holiday barfed on their lawn. But my kids ADORE it and we always slow down so they can look it over and see what's new.

Other than that, my honest-to-heaven favorite is simply the giving. I love to give to others. I love thinking of a gift and anticipating the reception. My two favorite people to shop for (incidentally the hardest to shop for) are my parents.

At 12/18/2009 3:02 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...

Great post as always, my good friend! Or should it be good post as always my great friend? Either way, I enjoyed it. I love shopping for gifts. It just makes me happy--right up until I run out of money. (Which is about now.) I also like seeing how many yard decorations the canyon winds can blow away. Nothing like seeing an 8 foot snow glow rolling down the street at 30 MPH.

At 12/18/2009 3:09 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

So, what can I say to make you NOT shut up?

The music, the treats*, getting time off at work. I plan to spend some of my off time reading and writing.

* Okay, I know all of you make-it-at-home people are come down on me like a ton of snowballs, but these confections are something I look forward to, only available this time of year:

At 12/18/2009 4:59 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

I think my secular favorite is my collection of nutcrackers. Or maybe it's the smell of pine. Wait--I love fruitcake (without those rind things) and filled cookies and homemade candy. I might as well admit it, I just like Christmas, both the spiritual side and the secular.

At 12/18/2009 10:56 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

I agree with everyone else, I just love it all. But if I had to pick a favorite secular thing it would be the decorations. My house is the one that looks like Christmas barfed- inside and out. I always say "this year we are not getting it all out. We are going to do simple." It never happens because I just love it all so, so much. Except this year, because I had surgery and no energy to decorate.

Except the 2 trees in the living room. And I did get out 1 rubbermaid box of angels. And 2 storage boxes of nativities. And the front entry stuff. And...

Ok, so I didn't buy anything new decoration wise this year. Yet.

At 12/19/2009 10:47 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

You guys are all so much fun! Thanks for the comments. I'm dying to see Sandra's house. (But coming upon an 8' snowglobe rolling down the canyon might just top it for "wow" factor.)

Pat: I'm with you. I started going over my to-do list in my head when I first woke up this morning. That resulted in me quickly pulling the covers over my head in a fruitless attempt to hide from the season for another two hours. Now I'm even further behind! :)

At 12/20/2009 3:40 PM, Blogger UTMomof4 said...

Christmas Cookies are my favorite! I love sugar cookies with cream-cheese icing. I love making them with my kids and eating them. I love delivering the plates of cookies to my neighbors, and receiving plates with treats as well. Yum! By the way, I just found this blog, and I am WAY excited to follow it now, I am a big fan of yours Mrs. Blair, and the other authors on this blog!

At 12/20/2009 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. Not so secular, maybe, and not even so enthuiasticly Christmas, but at a slower pace, I love the snow. White, pure, cover the earth and all its "sins", take upon it all the colors of all the lights and gleams, snow. Not really Christmassy at all, maybe, but I do love the snow--and I don't have to do a thing to decorate with it!

Merry Christmas!

At 12/21/2009 5:03 PM, Blogger UTMomof4 said...

I love the snow too! I love how it looks and makes everything so beautiful. Unfortunately the forecast for this week in Utah is not calling for any. So we will get an ugly dead -brown grass Christmas instead of a white Christmas this year. :(

At 12/22/2009 8:39 AM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

Excellent post, Kerry. I truly needed your wisdom today. ;)

As for Christmas favorites, I love decorating, and while our place doesn't look like Christmas barfed up inside and out, we do look somewhat Christmasy. (Is that a word?) It's the first Christmas that our youngest son has experienced with our family since his mission, so I wanted it to at least look like Christmas is arriving. =D

I also love looking at the lights around town, hot cocoa, making candy, and listening to Christmas music.


At 12/22/2009 10:51 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

UTMomof4: I'm behind in everything cyber-related -- as well as everything else -- but I do want to thank you for dropping by. Don't leave us during the "off" season, okay? We appreciate your great comments!

I'm resolving to work toward better blogs in 2010. (Everybody come back on the 1st to see if I crash and burn within the first 12 hours.) Merry Christmas, all! You're the best!

At 12/31/2009 1:42 AM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

I love Christmas. I love the presents (mu fav secular thing) I love giving them. I love giving gifts that make the receiver weep with joy over receiving them. I hate years with tight budgets. Oh and I think your game with your cat is cute :) Love you Kerry!


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