This year Christmas deserved a fresh look, a deeper level of joy for me, and simplification.
After downsizing from a three-bedroom house to a retirement apartment, I still find myself re-evaluating what to keep and what to toss. The Christmas decorations were purged earlier from two boxes to one, however, not enough to trim down expressions of the season no longer relevant to me.
I discarded whatever felt stale and tired. Yesterday the shiny brass Santa bells went into the Goodwill box; today the two-foot white Christmas tree with gold and white bulbs joined them, next went all red and green decorations. The small brass pair of deer that were present when I was a child were carefully wrapped into a sentimental corner of the linen closet.
I kept a winter scene outside the front door, where a pair of quail nestle in winter tree branches, a matching Merry Christmas greeting stands beside the birds. No red and green, just a quiet richness of antique gold leaf finish on plastic. On a cabinet in the living room, an altar was created with an alabaster Madonna and child flanked with two two-foot-tall golden angel statues. Highlighting the scene are three ivory-colored, battery-operated LED candles. No kings, no donkey.
It isn’t easy to simplify Christmas, especially to anything resembling the natural state of things; although it is worth a try to find what truly resonates with the spirit, to embrace the unification of the magical and the mystical despite the mercenary Black Friday and ongoing retail sales reports pleading for more.
Our community’s service to the poor is shown in TV ads displaying mountains of unwrapped toys donated for local underprivileged children, this just weeks after the ads called for the donation of hundreds of coats and jackets for them. I am reminded of the Dickens’ story, “The Christmas Carol,” where Scrooge has a conversion of heart and raises his clerk Bob Cratchit’s wages and sends his family a ham for their holiday table.
In Medford, their charity depends on the hit-and-miss generosity of the likes of me and Sherm’s openhanded food donations, while a raise in wages would have to come with a conversion of corporate hearts.
As I participate in the complicated confusion of the season, I downsize expectations, tidy up my Christmas box, and as fantasy mingles with faith, I relish the foolish as well as the reverent.
Judith Ticehurst lives in Medford.
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