Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Close the door in case you stay"

Recently, in a series of discussions focusing on why I like Christmas (and I do so like Christmas), several things became clear:
I am a sentimental Jackass
The Academic year lends itself to the Christmas Break being special
The Holiday Season can be a bit unreal, outside of time, and powerful
A few words on these observations.  One of the reasons I like Christmas so much is the lights. Really, you may ask, the lights? Sentimental, yes. But I can't help it.  It is a profoundly dark part of the year where I hail from, and the extra lights everywhere, on lamp posts, houses, balconies, storefronts, my apartment, trees, squirrels, ladies of the night, etc., etc., ad nauseum... It makes the world seem softer, somehow, warmer, more welcoming. Blankets of fresh snow help as well, muffling the harsh sounds of the city, the flakes obscuring vision, blurring edges, forming unseen shapes and swirls. Obviously, my love of the yuletide is geographically situated. My one Christmas in Florida was a profoundly unsettling experience.
I'm also a fan of the constructedness of the the holiday, a la coke-ad Santa and the all that Norman Rockwell happy horseshit. I love it. I know what it is, but I buy into whole hog, willingly. I'm wearing a Santa hat right now. Alone, in my apartment, with a Santa hat on. I think it helps that largely, I get on well with my family, and to go home for the holiday (only a few more days to go before I leave) is no burden, but rather a joy. I understand why some people might not like Christmas, and I don't hold it against them, but I do so enjoy it.
As an academic, my schedule makes Christmas more meaningful as well, as it constitutes not simply a division of the year, a holiday among holidays, as it must be for 9-to-5ers and other employed types.  The semester, in academia, ends in December, and a new one begins in January.  The cycle stops and starts afresh.  It is not simply a break in undifferentiated time, but rather a null space between two distinct periods. The holidays, for me, are in a real way outside of normal time. And that makes them a powerful time indeed.
Which brings me to the third point.  The holidays have some inherent magic, some build up, and release of, potential energy, of power.  Like Carnivale, or Mardi Gras, they represent a time when things can happen, strange and exciting things, with little or no repercussion on the real day to day life that falls outside the holiday season. Part of this is tied up in the academic cycle. Surrounded by profs and students, I am acutely aware of the heightened sense of energy on campus this time of year.  There is potential in that energy. Part of it is the frantic rush of holiday shopping, when Ville-Marie sings with the
sounds of commerce. Either way, there is magic in the air, and I love it.
I'll be home soon, for Christmas, amongst family and friends. It won't be a perfect Christmas, and I suspect there will be a few rough patches. But it will be Christmas, and a few days later, the new year. And we can all begin again, anew.

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