Yes, dear friends, I am a card-carrying cynic. Yes, I tend to be critical more than I’m kind. Yes, I dislike sugary sentimentality.
Oh, and yes, I’m a Christian, just not a perfect one, arguably a cranky one.
Back in the day, I was such a skeptic that my friends used to say stuff like, “I’ll believe in ghosts when Magsam says he’s seen one.”
Of course, this was before ghost hunting programs were all the rage. I like to watch them and make fun of them with some regularity. I can usually get a good eye-roll from my daughter when the ghost hunters react to any number of phenomena earnestly – be it a shadow, or a noise or draft of cold air – with the line from Bill Murray in Ghostbusters: “You’re right, no human being would stack books like this.”
My wife recently pointed out that I tend to criticize first and ask questions later. I never criticize her, she’s perfect, but I do tend to offer an opinion about pretty much everything. I comment on things like the number of times someone posts pictures of themselves on Facebook, to their interest in horrible things like the Kardashians or their failure to be interested certain vital things like, say, reading.
I can’t stand sentimentality for sentimentality’s sake. It’s not that I don’t love nostalgia, or the stuff that pulls at our collective heart stings, it’s just that I don’t like ham-handed attempts to manipulate me and I wonder about folks that do. It makes me consider how stiff their heart must be if they really need that much sappiness to get a reaction.
So with all that full disclosure, I love the buildup to Christmas.
I still watch the calendar and count the days till Christmas. I love putting up our Christmas lights, riding home from work with Christmas songs playing on the radio, and Christmas shopping for my wife and daughter.
And as a child of the television generation, I love some of the classic TV specials – The Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and yes, those Rankin/Bass winners like The Year Without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
When my daughter was little, we stumbled upon the Kipper animated series. My wife and I fell in love with the cartoon dog and his pals and their soothing story lines and lilting dialog in the Queen’s English. In Kipper’s Let it Snow, we find our canine hero out on Christmas Eve cutting down a Christmas tree. He wonders which is best: Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Presents or expecting presents?
I think in a lot of ways, it’s the anticipation I treasure. That’s why I love Christmas Eve so much. It’s like all of creation takes a collective breath and holds it, remembering a day when something amazing happened.
And take it from this cynical, critical, sour puss, it is amazing. And yes, it happened.