Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dona Nobis Pacem – It’s Christmas Eve!!

Mimi has asked us to get out our peace globes again and she picked a particularly suitable date. This post will probably ramble all over the place, but that’s what happens when you begin to get nostalgic. As I sit here a little after 1 AM in Southern California, it is Christmas Eve. I’m sipping some eggnog (light of course because it’s late), tracking Santa on NORAD’s website and listening to Christmas music. It is the holiest night on the Christian calendar and as this early, early morning turns into day and then night, the anticipation of both young and old will steadily grow. The young will eagerly anticipate St. Nick’s midnight flight and the rest of us will anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth. For me, Christmas Eve has always been a pleasant mix of wonderment and merriment. I can remember as a kid looking at every light in the sky and listening for any noise in the night with the hopes that it would be Santa. Christmas Eve also has another profound meaning for me. It is my birthday. I don’t tell you this just to let you know it is my birthday, but to emphasize that it has always been one of my favorite days of the year for many reasons.

For the lucky, today and tomorrow will be filled with friends, family and well wishes. Whenever anyone discovers that today is my birthday, they react as if it was an unlucky day to be born. I completely disagree and it has nothing to do with the birthday presents they think I missed out on as a kid because it was the day before Christmas. For me, it just heightens the Christmas holiday and I get to begin celebrating the season a day earlier. I have always believed that Christmas Eve is a time to experience the joy and goodwill of others, be it family and friends you see all the time or the folks that are always close to your heart but usually far away.

As my friends will embarrassingly tell you, I love Christmas. If the wife wouldn’t send me packing, I’d decorate the day after Halloween and start listening to my Christmas music at the same time (ok, you beat it out of me: I keep at least one Christmas CD in the truck all year and sometimes even pop it into the truck’s stereo. Yeah, I have a problem). I’ve heard people say that your recurring nightmares can tell you about yourself. Well, to be completely candid with you, the only recurring nightmare I have (although I don’t have it very often) is that I wake up one day and someone tells me Christmas has passed. I then become depressed because I missed the season, the lights, the tree, the décor and listening to Christmas music and know I will have to wait another year to do so. Again, I am aware I have a problem…

Living in Southern California has made it hard to really get into the Christmas spirit. There has definitely never been any snow around on Christmas Eve where I live. It was easier as a child because of the heightened wait for Santa and we were out of school. As an adult I’ve noticed that many times it seems like I was just going through the motions of what I thought I should be doing during the holiday season like decorating, shopping and listening to Christmas music. I have found that carrying through with the same enjoyable traditions year after year has helped me slip into the ‘spirit’ much more easily. Visiting relatives, playing certain CDs, watching certain movies or holiday cartoons and looking at the same decorated and lighted neighborhoods and houses with my good friend (like we did tonight and have done for the last 15 consecutive years) really helps. Now that Lucy and Ethel are 4 and are beginning to ‘get’ Santa Claus, it has added an extra excitement into our home. I also make a Christmas CD every year to give to our friends and family. It has gotten to the point that it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas if I didn’t do these things at Christmastime.

As a young kid, I can remember going to a relative’s open house after Christmas Eve mass every year. There was a lot of family around and it was so neat to be a part of it. I can also recall my brother and I waking up before sunrise every Christmas morning to see what had been left under the tree. I still get up before sunrise to this day, but it is to spend a few quiet moments alone in front of the tree and the fireplace listening to Christmas music and thinking about past Christmases. It is a very peaceful time for me.

The sights and sounds of the holiday season are incredible to me (all I need to do is hear Nat King Cole sing ‘The Christmas Song’). The outrageous décor and lights that people put up are great to see, but it is the sight of a Christmas tree or candle through the window that really captures my imagination. I’ll see a beautiful and well-maintained older house with a tree in the window and it seems so comfortable and peaceful to me. I can imagine families and friends visiting together inside and it’s a very warming thought.

Whether it is in a home, a restaurant or a work Christmas party, the phrase ‘we should get together and do this more often’ will be repeated a lot over the next two days. Everyone who utters that sentiment is right, we shouldn’t get together just to visit and enjoy each other’s company once or twice a year because a holiday dictates that we do. We should try to do it more often and carry those peaceful thoughts and feelings with us all year. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get to bed so I can wakeup and do all that last minute shopping tomorrow. I hope everyone on my list needs toothpaste or paperclips…


SGT DUB said...

Thank you for entertaining me each day with a freshness I need here in Afghanistan. May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.

SGT DUB said...

Oh, and a very special Happy Birthday to you too!

Josie said...

Michael, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, and of course Happy Birthday to you. I sympathize. Mine is on Wednesday. Sigh...

You have the true Christmas spirit. Don't ever lose it.

And, I'm glad you found the Norad website. Wonderful, isn't it?

Merry Christmas,

ian said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Michael. Keep on posting 'em and we'll keep reading 'em. And laughing. :)


Odat said...

Michael, Thanks for keeping the spirit alive!!! Have fun, Happy Birthday and Merry, Merry Christmas!

Awesome Mom said...

Happy Birthday! I hope you and your family have a merry Christmas!!

Le Nightowl said...

What an endearing post... :)
Happy birthday (I'm still in time!) and a wonderful Christmas time to you, Michael!

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
- Charles Dickens

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

michael happy birthday honey!!! bee

Violet said...

Over in these parts we have a summer Christmas (though a particularly poor summer, this year), so all that stuff about snow and woolly coats and rich food just doesn't sit well (esp. the last bit).

One day my daughter is going to stop watching the Baby Santa's Music Box DVD, turn to me and ask what penguins and polar bears have to do with Christmas.

Mimi Lenox said...

This is an awesome post and globe. Did a search today and ran across it again. I love to look at them. They bring me peace and I wish that for everyone who looks at them.
I have linked you in my blogging buddies in the sidebar. Thanks for always supporting Peace Globes!
Your blogger friend,

Patti said...

Ok, I am reading this a bit late. June 26, to be exact.
I love the first line about Mimi asking us to get our out our peace globes again. That was funny.

I wish I knew you guys in '06.

sexy said...