The birth of wonder.

As I grow older
I get surer
Man’s heart is colder,
His life no purer.
As I grow steadily
More austere
I come less readily
To Christmas each year.
I can’t keep taking
Without a thought
Forced merrymaking
And presents bought
In crowds jostling.
Alas, there’s naught
In empty wassailing
Where oblivion’s sought.
Oh, I’d be waiting
With quiet fasting
Anticipating
A joy more lasting.
And so I rhyme
With no apology
During this time
of eschatology:
Judgment and warning
Come like thunder.
But now is the hour
When I remember
An infant’s power
On a cold December.
Midnight is dawning
And the birth of wonder. -Madeleine L’Engle

Soooooo, remember how yesterday I said I want to keep on buying presents? Well, I do. I really do. It’s like, it was radical enough to stop buying presents for Mike, even though we did it to be responsible financially, and even though I love it now. But that makes me counter-cultural enough, you know? I don’t want to say that I don’t give presents at all. It’s already a dead weight in the room when someone says, “What did Mike give you for Christmas?” or, “What are you getting Mike for Christmas?” and I have to say, “We don’t exchange presents.” It’s what I imagine being a vegetarian is like. It’s how people respond to Mike when he goes on and on about sea turtles and conservation. “Oh, you’re one of those.” Sometimes I kind of want to be one of those. But it’s a hard step to take.

It is a well-documented fact that I don’t love shopping. But I don’t know if I could give up presents altogether, because I think I would feel a little bit guilty about not giving presents to OTHER people. (This is because I do like presents myself, much more than I like shopping.) But, for the most part, buying presents doesn’t make me feel the same way that many of our other traditions do. It doesn’t fill me with joy as much as luminaries in the park, or seeing A Beautiful Star, or decorating our tree, or listening to our favorite Christmas music, or reading our Advent book . . . I feel peaceful doing those things. Buying presents doesn’t make me feel peaceful.

So, honestly, I will admit that I don’t know what I want to do. I do like giving presents to the people who are important to me. I just don’t like the way that shopping and consumerism make me feel. I guess I need to continue to think it over, to think about the most meaningful ways to celebrate the holiday, because when I read something like this, all I can think is that “wonder” is very very far away from what I see at the mall.

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