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25 November 2011

Rockin' Around Epiphany

I think I come across as an anti-traditionalist, but I'm really just typically against tradition for the sake of tradition. In so many cases that's harmful and counter-productive.

Given that, it seems odd to me that I thrive off of Christmas traditions. Though I almost always over-think, I won't go into the origins of the Christ Mass, arguments for tie-ins to ancient pagan rituals or festivals, the evils of Santa Claus, or even launch into a tirade about the commercialization of the holiday. I just love the Christmas season and I'm willing to discard almost all of the controversy about its traditions. I don't think I do this with anything else in existence. Just Christmas.

This post will be unusual in that it doesn't examine things from a spiritual aspect. It's pretty materialistic, I guess, and really shows how self-centered I can be. Run with me on that and try to avoid raking me over the coals, please. You may identify with something here (including vintage toys and Christmas music)

I had an epiphany the other day.

It's possible that the memories you have yet to make will turn out to be better than the ones you wish you could experience again.

I haven't always felt like that. Nosiree. Here's some extended background.

I'm sentimental about Christmas past. Incredibly so. I still have my first Christmas stocking. I occasionally Google for toys from the era of the early 70's so I can imagine the excitement all over again. I remember Shoot Out In Space, the coveted Evel Knievel motorcycle (right now there's one for $229 at Amazon.com, my cheap-but-so-awesome Starbase Zeus playset, Gnip Gnop, and much more Christmas toy goodness. I always wanted a Stretch Armstrong but my dad said it was a sadistic toy (that's when I learned the general meaning of "sadist").



My favorite Christmas music tends to be from the 40's and 50's. My dad had so many albums from this era and that's what we listened to every Christmas when I was a boy. I've gone to Amazon.com and iTunes and dug up numerous Christmas albums by the Ray Conniff Singers, Billy Vaughn, Arthur Fieldler, The Abbey Choir, etc. I can't overstate how much I generally dislike new Christmas songs or how apathetic in general I am toward traditional Christmas songs that have been re-recorded since the 80's.

At some point I graduated to the "where did all the magic of Christmas go?" stage. I think I was around 13 years old, but I'm not sure. It was mind-bogglingly terrible. For years afterward, from the time I was a teenager through my adulthood (which is still going on) I tried to find decorations, specific nativity sets, ornaments, etc., that would remind me enough of those Christmases long ago to make me feel that ultra-incredible sense of child-like excitement and "magic." It never came back. It was a sad and horrible feeling -- almost as bad as a loved one passing away each Christmas. I can't describe it. Some of you may have experienced this or may still experience it. Or I could be the only one who's completely messed up.

Our children came along and although I've loved every Christmas since then and have found great pleasure in seeing their excitement at Christmas, I've found that it's impossible to recapture Christmas magic from my own childhood. And honestly, that's made me sad. (I think it's been crazy selfish of me, too.)

A week ago I was listening to Darius Rucker's "Candy Cane Christmas" and realized that I love the song. Yes, really. I almost I enjoy it in the same way I enjoy Christmas music from my childhood. Later in the day it dawned on me that one of my favorite Christmas albums ever is Relient K's "Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer" (an incredible value at $6.99 for 17 songs at Amazon.com). A day or two later, as I was putting up Christmas decorations with my daughter, now 12 years old, it hit me that over the years I've been experiencing some crazy kind of new "Christmas magic."

I do love to remember Christmas with my mom, dad, and brother. I still enjoy Googling for vintage G.I. Joe stuff in an almost obsessive manner. But I'm grateful that I eventually came to realize that it's just possible -- dare I say likely? -- that the Christmases I've yet to experience with my family and friends may have a special, new "Christmas magic." Even better than my childhood Christmases? I'm not sure, but I'm more than willing to see what happens.

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