As a young Boy Scout, we used to go caroling with the troop every year. There were at least 20 of us guys – we’d dress up in our Boy Scout uniforms, complete with our red berets, and go to the nursing homes around the area and sing our hearts out. We’d end up at this big old house in the hills of Morningside (Sioux City neighborhood) for cookies and hot chocolate. Very Norman Rockwell.
As I got older, music played a huge role in my Christmas experience. Either planning, playing or listening – this is the essence of the season for me. It’s never been about the food or the decorations or even the gifts.* A couple of years ago, in a fit of frenzied holiday anxiety, I took the 2 hours between Christmas Eve services that I was playing music at, to run home to prepare chili and oyster stew for the annual feed post service. I nearly sliced off my thumb and had to go to the ER for stitches. This was God’s way of saying – slow down, Christmas isn’t about overeating, over decorating, over gifting, over whatever. It is about chilling out and breathing into the story. This year I’m chilling with the family, doing some music, gifting a bit … basically, not freaking out and breathing through the frenzy. My Christmas wish to all of you is take it in stride, enjoy with a childlike appreciation – awe for the story, not for the sparkle. Feliz Navidad ya’all.
*I told nephew, Tim, that his grandma, my Mom would return every single gift we got her. (This was a buzzkill to a kid’s gift giving.) Every.Single.One. My suggestions for parents – wear the goofy sweater, scarf, tie, earrings, whatever it is – part of accepting a gift is accepting the gift. You can always change it out once you get to work. Goes along the lines of trying the brussel sprouts even if hate them. Be a good gift acceptor.