Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Story

There's something strange about working thru the holidays, especially graveyard shifts, and especially at a drug rehab place. For the first time in years I spent Christmas Eve with no real family. This time I didn't even sleep thru it, but was awake at work, and yet it was one of the more memorable ones I've had.

Even before work it was great because Glade and I met Caitlin and went to "midnight mass" at the Episcopalian Church downtown (by "midnight mass" I mean 11:00 mass, since I had to work at midnight). It was a very simple service, but I really liked the beauty of the building, the choir, and the very inclusive atmosphere and feeling. They make a point there of saying, basically, regardless of your denomination or faith, there is still something you can take from, enjoy, and share during this "time of year."

So then I went to work, and I talked for a long while to my cooworker before he went home, after which I joined several of the clients in helping stuff stockings and prepare presents for the 70ish clients we currently have (then I ordered Big Daddy's pizza, which was still open and delivering as well, and I gave the guy a HUGE tip, and we enjoyed a later night watching a movie and feeling Christmasy). I then did filing for several hours while watching TBS play "A Christmas Story" over and over and over again (I love that movie). I wrapped up the morning by taking out my harmonica and figuring out Silent Night and The First Noel.

So then I proceeded to walk home around 8 a.m. No busses are running on Christmas day, so it's a decent little walk. However, as I did so I felt festive and pulled the harmonica out again and started playing. It was really cool to see cars roll down windows, stop, and some people from houses come out to figure out where the songs were coming from. One old lady near 1000 E. and 200 S. even sang Silent Night along to the music and thanked me. Meanwhile near the Chevron on 700 E. a guy gave me a dollar (again, WHY do people think I look homeless?!).

Seriously though it was one of the simplest and most enjoyable Christmas mornings. It reminded me of one of my Christmases in Russia, when we went caroling around to people, singing a mixture of Russian christmas songs as well as english ones. "What Child is This" is my favorite of all time, and we sang it a few hundred times at least. Even though most of the Russians had never heard it before, they loved the melody (and I made a rough translated version so they COULD understand it). Yes, there were those three wise men's gifts attached to the first "Christmas" but I think the true beauty of the "Christmas Story" is in its utter simplicity. A poor couple, forced to stay the night in a barn, giving birth to their first child in an animal stall. No balloons. No baby shower. No refreshment table, hot cider, Santa Clause, or mistletoe. And yet millions in the world believe that the simplest of births gave rise to the Savior of mankind. Even those who don't believe this, still feel his effect upon the world.

That's pretty awesome, to me. Whether you say Happy Hanukah, Good Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or Jolly Festivus, the "season" has an effect on you, on your family, on your country, and on the world. And even though when people say "the reason for the season," and I want to say "Actually that's axial tilt," there IS something about "this time of year," that makes people more contemplative, more sharing, and more inclined to pull out a harmonica and play Christmas songs (plus Somewhere Over the Rainbow) as they walk the mile home after work.

Happy Holidays everyone. And on Earth, peace, good will toward men.