I experienced a few firsts on Christmas Eve.
First Number One
I read A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens for the very first time. I had never read it because I kept telling myself that I already know the story, so what is the point? I have images of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse in my head when I think of Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley, and Bob Cratchit. Well, the book was well worth the read, and I now understand why some of my friends read it every year around this time. It is full of the spirit of change, love, hope, and care for the poor. I loved reading the words of Scrooge’s nephew:
But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time . . . as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time, the only time I know of . . . 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.
His words remind me of immigrants, and how much hate I see in others’ hearts for sharing what we have and caring for the needy because of fear and greed. I hope that the season and the words of Scrooge’s nephew can soften some hearts.
I also appreciated Marley’s juxtaposition of attitude versus mortal conditions. He reminds us that those who turn their eyes down at their fellow beings and deny them the comforts and joys of life belong in “poor houses” and “work houses” more than those who are in need of care and comfort.
First Number Two
My other first was making a gingerbread house from scratch. I usually buy a kit for the kids, but this year, we were out of town for a week, we were sick for a week, and by then it was too crowded at the stores and too snowy for me to head out. I desperately searched the pantry for graham crackers to no avail. My eight-year-old daughter wanted to construct and decorate a gingerbread house so badly, and I wanted to make that happen.
When I started mixing ingredients, I warned my daughter, “This will probably end in tears. I might not work.” Yet, to my surprise, it DID work! I had my husband help me roll out the dough, but other than that, I did it. I made royal icing from scratch as well, and my daughter and her friend decorated it with what we had in the pantry: chocolate chips, sprinkles, random candies, marshmallows, nuts, and seeds. I was proud of myself for succeeding!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everybody! I hope you have experienced the peace and love of the season, rather than the anxiety and stress that can creep in with so much to do, so many expectations, and memories of difficult relationships. Hang in there if you are struggling.