WHEN MY FRIENDS ARE ALL LIKE, LET’S CELEBRATE THE HOLY EXPECTATION OF ADVENT, AND I’M LIKE
But srsly. I like talking about advent as much as the next person, and I also really like curling up on the couch and watching a good ol’ secular holiday movie. I have a bit of a suspicion that you do to, if you grew up anywhere in western culture. This is the dichotomy we were served, that we ate up with abandon: our most spiritual of days blended with capitalism, consumerism, a misplaced sense of longing.
In years past I tried to combat this. I got really into the Advent Conspiracy, Buy Nothing Christmas, and have for quite some time now made horrible, horrible presents for people (my poor family). I also passed out Thanksgiving food boxes, brought my refugee friends chocolates and oranges and delivered toys to their homes. I felt good, about these actions; I was taking back Christmas.
Except, it was still all about me. My holy endeavors, my enlightenment, my charitable heart. And in their own way, most of my actions still revolved around what I wanted (to feel good, to feel free, to feel righteous). I have always wanted to be the holy rebel, the non-consumer, the self-righteous advocate for the voiceless. But as I am learning, every day, even these actions scream of my own poverty, of how hard it is to be in relationship with people in my life. I would rather write a blog about all that is wrong in the world than engage intimately with its people. I would rather scorn other’s choices than inspect my own selfishness. I would rather deliver presents (made in a sweatshop!) than spend the entire day with people so different from me because . . . I want Christmas to be my way. I don’t want to change everything about my life. If I invite alchololics over than that puts a damper on things. If I have muslims over then I have to dress differently, eat differently. If I have one of my crazy locavore friends over than I have to spend an arm and a leg at the co-op to make a meal that comes from sustainable places . . .
I don’t want it. As much lip service as I pay to justice, it becomes clear I don’t want it. I am fine with staying poor in relationships, because it allows me to do what suits me and mine, much better. So in the past, I have rushed head-long into charity, into finding small ways of helping that fit into my already-solidified life. Some of these made it into my Christmas rituals, and I am now in the slow process of purging them. I am moving beyond Advent Conspiracy here; I am starting to find out that everything is tied into relational poverty, in my inability to get down to the muckety-muck of those around me. And thus, Christmas is starting to feel joyous again, as I look to the supreme example of someone who gave up everything of himself for the love of us. I feel a great hope, actually.
Now how did we get here? I was just going to write a little post talking about some of my favorite, silly, cultural expressions of this season that mean something to me. I guess you can take the girl out of the conspiracy but you can’t take the conspiracy out of the girl. Or something like that. But I am starting to believe: as we move from living in a season of charity to a life of justice, there is room for these small celebrations.
Feel free to share yours as well, as I suspect many of us are on this journey of figuring out what to do with our weird holidays. So here is what gets me, D.L., into a holly jolly mood:
1. Old-Timey Christmas Music.
Srsly. On spotify look up Doris Day singing Christmas music. I love it! Plus: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin. Also, I found this amazing video of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing Little Drummer Boy. You’re Welcome.
2. This Amazing Nativity Video.
This is what happens when hipsters re-create the nativity scene with their children! And the accents! I die, I die. And my toddler loves it too. I am happy that she now thinks that when Jesus was born there was a giant, kid-friendly rave at the beach. Perfect.
3. Subversive Crafts-As-Gifts
I wish I could show you some pictures of the “art” I am making for people this year. Oh family, you have no idea what’s coming!
4. Kids Crying When They Meet Santa
This is my favorite thing ever. Just google it.
5. Unexpectedly Amazing Christmas Movies.
Love Actually (warning: langauge/nudity alert. but ya’ll can fast forward. or buy the edited version–like my mother-in-law).
You could use this movie as a personality test. What is your favorite sub-plot, and why? I am partial to the Colin Firth one, as an ESL teacher (“Just in cases”!) but the storyline between the Rock Star and his manager makes me giggle-cry all the time.
Classic. It opens at Christmas-time, so this makes it Christmas-y, right?
Classic Claymation Christmas movies
Am I the only adult person that thinks claymation is magical? I don’t think so. Rudolph was awesome, but my family grew up watching a Claymation Christmas, which you should definitely check out. Or just watch this clip:
The California Raisins! Children of the 80s, Unite!
This might be my most favorite Christmas movie ever. Danny Boyle (28 hours, SlumDog Millionare) directed this amazingly beautiful, slightly tense story of a young boy who talks to saints and gets embroiled in a robbery. This one makes me sob big, fat tears. You must promise me you will find this video and watch it. Please?
6. Good Thoughts on Advent
I have a lot of cool internet friends. And a lot of them are writing about Advent. My friend Amy is doing it for the entire month, which you should totes check out. My friend Kelley expressed the ache so well, and my friend Addie talks about Christian cliches and depression (so good!).
So there’s my grown-up Christmas list. Some of the stuff I have been into, as we live out our lives in the dark and the cold and the bright. What about you?