Messiah was a lot fun. The soloists were all very good (#2 daughter stood out for me, of course), the choir was as good as possible, the potluck breakfast beforehand was fun. We had The Emo King over for the weekend (sweetening up the tenor section), and he even offered to prepare Spam for us as part of our cultural exchange. We did not have Spam. Maybe next time. For this weekend — even though our work potluck was a marvel of healthiness — pizza, breakfast casseroles, turkey dinner, and Nesselrode pie were way more bad fats and bad carbs than I needed.

We played “Apples to Apples”, watched a movie, sang songs, and lazed around in between meals and rehearsals. After The Emo King set off for his home, we worked on homemade Christmas presents. A pleasant weekend.

#1 son complained that Christmas doesn’t feel the same as it used to, and said that it’s because we don’t do as much together any more. So he came to Messiah under duress, joined briefly in the Sunday afternoon craft project, refused to go shopping with his sister and brother or to see the lights with his sister and The Emo King, and spent Sunday evening in his room playing video games. He is fifteen. So I suppose the desire to join with the family and have those old holiday feelings wars with the desire to separate from the family and have those new getting-older feelings. I wish it were possible to fix that for him, but it is part of growing up, and not fixable — and I am thankful for how little trouble he’s having with it, considering how much some people have.

But it is an imperfection in Christmas. We have others. We had three deaths in the family this year, one particularly tragic, and we cannot help but think of that. My brother, who lost his wife, is intending to spend Christmas day alone in the woods, moping (he is not using that word) and so the rest of us will spend that day not only missing my sister-in-law, but missing and worrying about my brother as well. #1 daughter, having her first Christmas away from the family, will be alone on Christmas day while Son-in-Law is at work at the nuclear power plant. We are having our first Christmas without all our children present.

Our desire to have Christmas be perfect is not a reasonable one. It is a result of nostalgia for the days when our parents made holiday magic for us, combined with media images of perfection that have nothing to do with reality. Christmas is the most highly-orchestrated, heavily-planned thing we do, short of a wedding, and we want it to be just right. But it is also part of our real life. If our daily life is not perfect (and whose is?), then our Christmas won’t be either.

To me, that is just one more reason to give Christmas a spiritual focus. The worldly images of Christmas that we have are all far more difficult to achieve, and far less believable, than the spiritual ones. However, in honor of the imperfections of Christmas, today’s song is “Christmas Time is Here”:

You know this, probably, as the Charlie Brown Christmas song. You might never have sung it, though, or even known what the words were. If you divorce it from the movie, you will find that it is a plaintive, almost a melancholy tune, with sweetly simple words about happiness. Do you have a jazz quartet hanging around your house today? If so, you have the perfect accompaniment. The piano will do, though, or you can just hum it in a thoughtful way as you get ready for work.