The madness and the joy

This week’s column is about the holidays, naturally. It’s a hectic season that tends to be full of highs and lows. As a parent, it’s a tricky balancing act to keep everyone sane–including yourself.

Read it here.

There are plenty of things I don’t like about this time of year. Shopping, for instance. You’d think Toys R Us would be a fun place to visit, but in fact it’s a desolate plastic wasteland designed to make you feel dead inside.

We stopped there the other night to try to find something advertised in the flyer. Shawna had the following helpful conversation with a young staffer whose badge said “Ask Me.”

“Do you know where this is?”

“No, I don’t know if we have that.”

“Well, is there anyone you could ask?”

“Uh… no.”

Customer service at its finest, my friends. After a few minutes of aimless wandering we gave up and went to a movie.

(Hugo, by the way, is stunning. It’s the rare movie that actually improves upon the book. And one of the few movies actually worth seeing in 3-D.)

But it’s also a wonderful time of year. I love the glow of the Christmas tree in the corner of the dining room. Eating way too many sweets. The Whirlwind’s overwhelming, infectious excitement. Watching the General discover the joy of unwrapping things. The Miracle’s delight in rolling a shiny ornament across the floor (non-breakable, thank goodness). Seeing the Mastermind write a Christmas card to his friend in B.C. tonight.

I love good Christmas music – Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Ella Fitzgerald singing Angels We Have Heard on High, Sufjan Stevens’ “Sister Winter,” among others. I love songs like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “O Holy Night”, with their longing melodies bursting with anticipation.

And I love the sacredness of the season, buried as it often is beneath our bland political correctness and our gross excess that flies in the face of everything Christmas is actually supposed to be about.

Then again, Christmas is really about God showing up in an unexpected way, in the midst of a messed-up world that needed His help. That last part hasn’t changed much at all. But if you look hard enough, this is a season where you can still see glimmers of hope cutting through the anxiety and the noise, the arguments and the fear.

Have a wonderful Christmas,  however you choose to celebrate.

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