“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein
The Angel (Hieronymus) Gabriel

The Angel (Hieronymus) Gabriel

My son is a serious child. He came by it honestly, being passed down from the maternal side. My people are stoic New Englanders for the most part. They will make exceptions, and when they do, they will break into boisterous partying like no others (must be the Italian/Irish genes), but it almost inevitably involves either bars, hockey, or racehorses, or a combination of the three. Daily life is something to be braved. Living is serious business.

This is not to say that Harry is not a happy child. He practically exudes quiet self-contentedness, and when he does become excited, he is his father’s son. When Harry is joyful, the world glows. He dances uninhibitedly. He sings. He giggles with complete abandon.  He smiles with his whole body.  Self-consciousness does not suppress his expression of joy and wonder.

I have had a very hard time getting in the Christmas spirit in the years post-Katrina.  Normally I am almost embarrassingly enthusiastic about Christmas.  I will start playing Christmas carols as soon as it is decently appropriate to do so.  My standard for not driving people nuts is that I try not to turn them on until the Friday after Thanksgiving.  I bake cookies from the same Christmas cookie recipe – handed down to my mother from her mother-in-law.  I have Christmas ornaments on my tree dating from 1979.  I still have them – our Christmas decorations were the only thing that survived Katrina completely intact, riding out the storm safely ensconced in the attic, where they narrowly missed getting crushed by a fallen pine.

But since Katrina, I have only take those decorations out once.  I haven’t had the heart to put up a tree and decorate a house that, try as I might, I have never been able to apply the word “home” to and have it ring true.  I did it once to give it a good college try, but I never had the same wholly warm feeling.

But this is the first year that my son is showing demonstrable excitement about everything Christmas.  It’s like he suddenly woke up into a big dream, and it’s all unbearably wonderful to him.  The Christmas tree, the decorations, the lights, the presents, the cookies – he wants it all, and he drinks in every last bit.  And I am warmed to find that it is not all Santa Claus and toys, either – I mean it’s some of that, but, he’s FOUR.  That has to be remembered.

Despite the excitement of the wrapped presents under the tree, the subject of God and Jesus and the Christmas Story comes up in conversation a LOT with Harry.  It’s Baby Jesus’ birthday.  And Baby Jesus came because God loved us.  That’s Harry – without prompting, without lecturing, it is child’s pure interpretation of God’s love for the world, as reflected in a parent’s love for their child.  To him, Christmas is a giant celebration of that love – the love that forms the center of his life.  The constant love that forgives, that guides, that never abandons.

So our Christmas tree is back in our living room in the place of honor, and the mantel and door are decorated with greenery and holiday greetings, and the happiness of Christmas, through a little boy’s wondering smile, is finding a way back in our hearts.

And isn’t that the meaning of Christmas?  That a little boy should teach us to be better people?

Just ask Harry – he’ll tell you all about it.

December 24th, 2009 at 6:38 pm
4 Responses to “The Happiest Contagion”
  1. 1

    Glad to see that you’ve posted again. I was worried you’d broken your typing fingers or something.

    And just so you know, Black Friday is, indeed, the first day it’s decent to play Christmas music. (An exception is made for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the day before.)

    Will

  2. 2
    M&Co. Says:

    Children are so wonderful. This Christmas, despite everything else going on, the BoyChild gave away one of his Nintendo DS (yes he did have two-it’s a long story) to a boy whose father lost his job and they hadn’t bought any Christmas presents.

  3. 3
    Deirdre Says:

    Ginny brought new heights of joy to our Christmas too. Which, given how into-it my whole family is I really didn’t think was possible.

  4. 4
    Sara Says:

    I start playing Christmas music after Halloween . . . unapologetically.

    And that is the most precious picture I’ve ever seen. I hope they still do annuals by the time he’s a senior, that has to go in there. 🙂