Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas is here, bringing good cheer

In years past I've lamented Christmas as a college student. I don't own any decorations and am too poor to buy any. I am craft-illiterate and refuse to taint Christmas by making then hanging severely mangled homemade Christmas decorations. I ring in the month of Christmas with end-of-semester papers and projects followed closely by final exams, and then I jump at the opportunity to work full-time the rest of the month to get a few dollars ahead. I'm not big on listening to Christmas music all of the time (don't lynch me, I like it, just not on those 24/7 radio stations), and I'm not exactly admiring neighbors decorations because I live in a mainly student populated apartment complex. I celebrate Christmas for a few days with my family, whether in Utah or in Washington, and then it's back for a few more days of full-time work before I start the new semester slog all over again. Like I said, this has been the rinse and repeat Christmas pattern for the past few years I've been in college.

I think of Christmas at home with ungodly amounts of cookies, decorations strewn throughout the house, and a Douglas fir filling the living room with needles, its sheer size, and best of all - its smell. All of our hodge podge ornaments are placed conscientiously on the tree to fill up as much space as possible. It used to be easy but as all of the kids get married, one by one, they take their ornaments and the tree looks a little more sparse every year (I am secretly pleased because then I get to put all of my ornaments front and center). One of the radios in the kitchen is tuned to one of those radio stations playing Christmas music 24/7 starting right after Thanksgiving and for some reason, it's not so bad when it's at home. Slowly, presents start congregating under the tree and even though it's never too many, it also looks perfect and full on the old tree skirt that has the 12 Days of Christmas  embroidered around it. Stockings are laid out on the fireplace and the white tree advent calendar that never has any candy in it is hung above the railing on the stairs.

On December 1st, something just felt kind of different about Christmas this year, and yet everything seems the same. If anything, it's kind of worse. My apartment is even less decorated than before, I have to work even more, and be with family even less. Regardless, I can't put my finger on it, but something is different. Maybe it's because I started out the month with family, and can now bear the next two weeks of wrapping up classes before I get to see them again. Maybe it was the office decorations I see everyday that are really quite impressive. Maybe it's because I heard my first Christmas song in a commercial last week and even though I don't remember the song or the product (it was not the Victoria's Secret ad, but I have to admit: Carol of the Bells is my favorite Christmas song), it made me so happy my eyes thought someone was chopping onions in my room. Maybe it's because I know there won't be much else this Christmas besides service and family, but I finally figured out that's all I need. Or maybe it really only hit just tonight, after we went caroling to some people that may or may not have needed to know that there was a haphazardly formed group of their peers that have found some common ground every Monday night, that miss them when they don't come. Whatever the reason for my attitude this season, it's refreshing.

This is without a doubt the way Carol of the Bells is supposed to be sung. I love a multitude of variations and arrangments but as far as classic, perfect interpretation, this is it.