“It’s Christmas Eve. It’s-it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we-we-we smile a little easier, we-w-w-we-we-we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.” Bill Murray as Frank Cross in Scrooged
Well, not exactly Christmas Eve….but who’s counting?
Well just a couple of days left until Christmas Eve which if you are Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox actually counts the same as Christmas day for sacramental purposes. The Parish that the Abbess attends is having its “Midnight Mass” at 9 PM but I should not criticize. When I was out visiting the little camps of advisers on the Iraqi-Syrian border in 2007 I moved the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass to the 23rd for the Marines and other advisers at COP South. I figured no one else was out doing Christmas with these guys so why not, after all it was already Christmas Eve somewhere.
Anyway, I want to take this time to thank my readers and wish them a Merry Christmas, unless of course they are Jewish, Happy Hanukah. Of course I have other friends and readers who are of different faiths or non-faiths. I wish all my Wiccan readers a belated Happy Winter Solstice, my Moslem readers a Happy Eid. To my Atheist readers have a happy day off. Finally to the Jehovah’s Witness readers, sorry you get no presents and not only that if you guys are right only about one half of one percent of you will get to do anything other than pick fruit and pet animals for eternity anyway so enjoy. Heck even Atheists can buy presents for people at Christmas without any guilt because it helps the economy and makes people feel good.
So since everyone has reason to celebrate let us do so. Of course many still have some hurdles to get over before you can open whatever presents you get, buy for yourself or can’t have because you’re a Jehovah’s Witness. Among those things are fighting crowded malls, post offices, bad traffic and people infected with the holiday spirit which I think might also be called “road rage.” Anyway most of us will navigate these treacherous waters as we travel over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s second ex-husband’s girlfriend’s brother’s house for some holiday cheer. Actually the Abbess and I will spend it together and with our friends Pat and Jim, but most people call him Jim for Christmas day.
Anyway all seriousness aside the holidays, whichever one you celebrate, or don’t celebrate can be fraught with dangers toils and snares; from some of which we have not already come. Yes there are the “Ghosts of Christmas Past,” the Christmas’s or other holidays that went to hell and are forever embedded in the back of our pea brains just waiting to jump out in the middle of the night. Of course there are the “Ghost’s of Christmas Present,” the “demons” that crowd our daily lives that show up when we don’t want them to and causing us stress, pain and undue anxiety. Finally there are the “Ghost’s of Christmas Yet to Come” that inhabit our dreams and either causing us to give in to fatalism and despair or to make a change for the better, I believe that in the latter case Christians call this repentance, but regardless of what it is called it is the better option. Christmas and I guess other folk’s holidays can do this to you.
I mentioned in a previous article on this site about my crisis of faith since my return from Iraq how difficult Christmas can be and how fragile faith can be. For a lot of people the holidays bring up all the hurt, pain, failure and rejection they have ever experienced rolled into a big turd sandwich served cold with chips instead of fries and Pepsi instead of Coke. Having gone through this last year I can understand just how people can despair in a time that should be full of hope, grace and peace. One person I know told me that Charlie Brown couldn’t compete with them. I
In our house this can be a difficult time mainly due to the Ghosts of Christmas past that inhabit both of our lives and the “Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come: which occasionally pay their visits. However we work hard not to let that happen. Over the past few weeks the Abbess has been working on making decorations for our tree. Now we have tons of decorations for the tree, many from Germany. However she has decided that she decided she wanted to do something different this year. She made what has to be hundreds of ornaments out of various beads, crystals, ribbons and bows. Between that and a lot of other activities we are exhausted. I ended up after she went to bed decoration the tree. The ornaments look great. I went to bed and of course got up before her to go to work. I turned on the tree lights and turned the other lights off. The tree was beautiful and when she got up she got to see the fruit of her hard work. It was cool and the tree is beautiful.
Today I was fortunate to get off a bit early. I was able to get home and go with the Abbess to visit East Berlin to do some shopping. This to locals is known as the base commissary although Wal-Mart is often very similar. If you have read anything on this site regarding my dealings with the Ghost of PTSD know that crowds are not good for me unless they are in a ballpark. The commissary is a place that I do not like going but it was a necessary trip. I survived though it did feel like my skin was crawling as I got stuck in the far corner of the store were the checkout line began, just like the stores in East Berlin before the Wall came down. Having been to East Berlin and waited in long lines in crowded stores to attempt to buy what was not there I get flashbacks, especially when the line Nazi, or better put Line Stasi agent tells you which checkout stand to proceed to when you get to the front of the line.
Now I’m sure that many of you will visit your own version of East Berlin be it in a mall, a Wal-Mart or a base Exchange or commissary in the next couple of days, but be of good cheer in spite of everything you won’t have to brave this again until the 26th when you have to take stuff back and deal with people in worse moods and dispositions than those that were out before Christmas as well as those who are angling for bargains and willing to kill you to get them. I can understand why Frank Costanza created “a Festivus for the rest of us.” Of course in my family we sometimes experienced the airing of grievances but not the feats of strength associated with that holiday. Serenity now!
So until Christmas or whatever holiday that you might or might not celebrate let us “don we now our happy clothing” as we “deck the halls” while we drive our SUVs to Grandmother’s ex-second husband’s girlfriend’s house to watch football games in anticipation of baseball season as spring training begins in just under two months.
So until then have a blessed Christmas or whatever holiday you do or don’t do this year.
Peace, Padre Steve+