Signs of a Delusional Mind
These are the chronicles of the esoteric . . .
a foundation, pt 1
Please note, this is the first post of a four-part series.
Growing up, the descent of glistening white winter brought along with each snowflake certain expectations and actions - expectations and actions which characterised the season so much that without these winter simply was not complete. In fact, December would be nearly unrecognisable without one particular occurrence - as unrecognisable as winter would be without snow for those living in Winnipeg. Indeed, it was the first weekend of every December in our home that the 'Christmas tree' was set up and decorated. And there it would stay in all its colourful holiday splendour for the rest of the month, being promptly disassembled with the introduction of the new year.
In my child's mind, winter was essentially interchangeable with Christmas; Christmas, in effect, was the season in which winter happened (the months following merely an extension of what has taken place, serving as recovery while also moving in anticipation toward summer). With the first snowflake, the scent and sights of Christmas fell upon us - snow existed as the voice in the wilderness of falling leaves and clawing trees that delivered - heralded! - to us the message of the time of year. When snow came, it was Christmas.
And then the music we heard only in this season would fill our ears like the angels' songs. The all-familiar sights of wrapping paper and holiday-themed advertisements in every store and television commercial became more and more prevalent. Then the tree was decorated, and we knew it was December - and we became acutely aware of what now was only weeks, only days away. Classes came to an end and people were rosy from the cold and from the joy (or, as in some cases, from being flustered). Friendliness, happiness, peace and love were all tangibly visible in the smiles and greetings of every person met on the streets and in stores - all co-existing with panic, zeal, and the rushing of anxious, busy bodies.
Green, red, white; toys, candy, turkey; family, family, family.
And it was Christmas.
As part of a Nicaraguan tradition, my mother's side of the family - then a small number of aunts and uncles with barely any cousins - would begin gathering in my parents' house mid-evening of Christmas Eve (now the numbers have grown so that we are forced to rent the basement of my parents' church to accommodate everyone). There we would play games together until midnight when we would sit at the table for a grand, delicious feast my mother had slaved over all day. Afterwards, we would huddle in the living room, next to the decorated tree, and we would all listen to the Scriptures - usually read by my dad - and together sing a few hymns. As we grew and the family grew, so too did our little program; occasionally it would feature a special number performed by each child - a song, a reading, a memory. And then the gifts would be exchanged. While I have many fond memories of giving presents to my siblings and giving presents to my parents along with my siblings, I have no recollection of what they were - nor do I recall anything I myself received. The point was that we were together. The point was that Jesus had been born.
Of course, being raised in a Christian family, my parents always made sure that we were aware of 'the reason for the season.' Like the tree in December, Jesus was never absent in our celebrations (unlike Santa Claus who never stood a chance). As surely as the snow fell, we gathered as families to commemorate and rejoice in the conception of God in a human body. We ate together, gave gifts to one another, sang songs, read stories, laughed and felt a range of emotion all because God entered space and time - an undeniably remarkable event in the history of the world.