December 1st, and here in Denver, the high temperature- according to the weather folk- has already occurred sometime in the early morning, a whopping 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Yummy. Add to that, it is staying dark later, and getting dark earlier, and it can only mean one thing. The Holidays are here! I know, for lots of you the holidays are a pain in the ass- longer lines at the stores, sappy music on the radio, cheesy commercials exploiting tradition and sentiment, trying to get you to buy crap you don't need with money you don't have. Endless showings of It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. I get that. I really do.
But I still love this time of year. I love Christmas trees in people's windows, lights on houses and storefronts, giant menorahs, huge snowmen, and sweater after horrible sweater depicting strange, semi-fantastical scenes. What's not to love? This is the time, since way before Santa and Silent Night and Scrooge, when people get together in the cold and dark and say "we're gonna make it, after all- the days will soon grow longer, the spring will come, and by the way, I love you all very much". It's a seasonal thing, that crosses cultural and religious lines. Sure, some folks add their beliefs about God or whomever to the mix- but we all feel the cold, we all experience the darkness, and we all need to remind ourselves of the better part of being a human being, the better part of each other.
Not that there aren't some parts of the holidays that are a drag. More than once, I've woken up in a panic, thinking to myself "Holy shit! I forgot to get Mom a present". And this panic usually lasts several minutes. Then I remember she's gone, and the night seems colder still, the world a little more lonely. But then I think of her talking to me about Santa after I had figured what was what, as far as Mr. Kringle goes. I remember she looked a little sad, and I think in retrospect it was that weird happy sadness you feel when you see kids growing up- happy that they've taken that next step, sad at the passing of another phase of life. When I asked her, point blank, if there was a Santa, she said yes, in a way, there was. She told me how what was really important wasn't some old guy handing out presents, but the spirit of love and hope, of wanting to make other people happy.
As Mr. Dickens says, "I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
So yeah, I dig the holidays. I'll still watch A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life, and most likely will cry pretty much the whole way through.
PS- My first film- the short Strong Tea, has been fully funded through Kickstarter- and I feel like George Bailey at the end of the movie. We shoot in the next month. If you'd like to kick in, there are still a few days left, and every dollar helps. God Bless us, everyone.