A Christmas Ache

Last night we all gathered together and read, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.  I love this book for so many reasons; the harmonious language, the beautiful illustrations, the feminine resolve.  And I love how it makes me cry at the end. It is so therapeutically sentimental.  The story makes you ache with joy.  I remember how my mother first read this story when we were young.  It was freshly published then, and I remember her treasuring it, delighted to find a Christmas book wonderful enough to bring home to our collection.   Typically, Myles likes to flip through a Tin Tin while we read aloud, and usually I let him; but not this time.  I patiently patted the sofa square next to me until he finally relented to my call.  The story transfixed all audience members. Fiona was startled when St. Nicholas brought the church deacons switches during the Christmas pageant.  "But aren't the deacons good?" she asked.  I answered, "It is kind of like a Christmas joke." This did not satisfy her, and rightly so because her dad is a deacon of the best variety, worthy of much more than a switch.  

     I can find joy in these stories and in these moments.  The joy that is often elusive on the other side of the page.  Joy that one feels forced to find, to the point where we feel like we must manufacture it; especially for the sake of the children.  I remind myself during these happy/sad moments of a truth* told to me that "the sad seriousness and happiness comes together to make joy."  For me, I feel the importance of that blend.  It seems to me that joy does not feel authentic without confronting life's groans first.  And clearly in this season of expectation, the cries cannot be ignored.
     I think next our family will turn to the old Dickens standby, A Christmas Carol.  Here gratitude and joy flow together freely from me around the fact that this good man gave us something cheerily and merrily concise, when his other masterpieces feel out of reach for this stage of life.  Yes, a Dickens primer sounds perfect right now.

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A thought of Jerome Berryman, creator of Godly Play.


Melissa Martin said...

i love these thoughts on joy. and, a dickens primer -perfectly said.

Terri Evans said...

My freshman English classes just completed A Christmas Carol. We took turns reading off the big screen from a PDF of the 1840s first edition (Project Gutenberg), and the students had to keep a running list of vocabulary words. We used some of the words in a creative writing exercise. When asked why, in a school that is mostly Jewish, we were reading A Christmas Carol, I asked them if they realized how long A Tale of Two Cities was. Discussion ended. They thoroughly enjoyed it once we got into it, and several of them knitted or doodled during the story, pausing now and again to jot down unfamiliar words. I will have to get The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree for A and M to read their little ones. You are loved, ladies. Merry Christmas!

Emily said...

Thank you Terri! Merry Christmas to you!