"Raindrops on roses,
And whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles
And warm woolen mittens.
Bright paper packages
All tied up with string.
These are a few
Of my favorite things."
When Maria VonTrapp sings those verses in "The Sound of Music," it's not really a Christmas song. She's singing a song to comfort the children as a loud storm moves through the Austrian countryside. And yet, the song has become a staple of Christmas collections.
As we slide into the Christmas season, it is all too easy to fall prey to the things we believe me must do to make it a successful season. We must buy all the right gifts. We must attend all the right parties. We must eat all the right meals. We must say all the right things.
Setting aside the simple fact that Christmas is originally a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, we've simply loaded too much else on to that one holiday to make it capable of ever living up to our expectations. It now is expected to have a magic that will cure all transgressions. Rather than observing the birth of the One that we Christians consider our savior, we have turned Christmas into the penultimate social occasion.
Most churches have struggled with congregations also trying to give Christmas the highest priority, when the liturgical calendar recognizes that Easter is the season that celebrates the promise fulfilled. But, it is hard to resist the twinkling lights, the beautiful songs and the promise of unexpected surprises and gifts.
Which brings me back to the song that opened this piece.
The reason that it has taken its place in the canon of holiday staples is that it celebrates the inconsequential things that, taken all together, make our lives so unique and interesting. There are the beautiful patterns of frost on a windowpane. The unique light of a winter sun through yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees. The delicious smell of wood smoke curling up from chimneys. The delightful sound of the laughter from children as they run around the lighted displays.
Instead, we worry about the correctness of the wording of our Christmas greetings, when calling it a holiday is perfectly acceptable, since that is what it is. We worry about how much we should spend, when some of the greatest gifts are the ones that come from the heart, not from the checkbook. We worry about whether or not we are going to concerts, parties and events, forgetting the worship services and church gatherings.
I learned long ago that, no matter how extravagant the gifts one gave a child, they often had more joy in playing with the boxes and the wrapping paper. As they got older, they often worked themselves into a fever pitch, hardly noticing the difference between one gift and the other, and simply tearing into the next package with wild abandon.
When we finally get older, we find less and less that gives us surprise or joy during the Christmas season. Nothing that happens can ever live up to the memories and recollections of everything we experienced when we were, ourselves, children. Unless, that is, we take joy and pleasure in those "favorite things" that are simple, dear and personal.
This Christmas, let's all notice the little things that will make the season unforgettable. In celebrating the small and unrecognized things, we succeed in celebrating the Christ for whom the season exists.
It’s all just my opinion.