|Bronner's Covered Bridge Ornament... it doesn't get more Christmas than this.|
The past week I have begun to dive head first into the Christmas spirit. Mariah Carey, N’Sync, Britney Spears, Frank Sinatra, Relient K, Elvis, Amy Grant, and all my other holiday classics are playing on my computer while I work, in my car while I drive, on my radio while I cook, etc. You see, I love Christmas. I mean, I LOVE Christmas. I don’t love Christmas enough to listen to Christmas music year-round, I have respect for the other holidays, but I love it enough to allow my entire life to be consumed in nothing but holiday preparations, snowfall wishes, and candy cane dreams from November 25th-December 25th.
Kris doesn’t feel the same. For him Christmas is another holiday. Yes, it is worth celebrating, but he doesn’t hold the same emotional connection to the holiday as I do. For him, he sees it as an artificial holiday based around the stress of gift giving, the commercialism of expensive products, and exasperation of the Christian church. I have been making fun of him for being a Grinch, but the reality is that we are coming from different places. We have different things that remind us of home, family, and happy memories. For him our dog Ackley, funny calendars, and good books are things that inspire him to think of his family. For me, holidays, like Christmas, remind me of yesteryear when my mom would cook all day, my dad would pull me outside to help shovel snow, and my extended family would pile into our house with delicious food and hungry bellies.
For me Christmas is less about Santa Clause, White Elephants, and baby Jesus, and more about quality time with friends and family, the opportunity to make something special that spreads a smile across someone’s face, and the joy that only the sparkle of snow and taste of sugar cookies covered in pastel frosting can bring. When I think of Christmas, I think of family, laughter, and the excitement of what wishes will come true on the morning of the 25th.
Christmas reminds me of dreams coming true. I remember as a child driving home from the evening Christmas Eve service and searching for a red light in the sky. I remember visiting the Santa House and believing with every little piece of my heart that that large man with the soft white beard was Santa himself. I remember being a part of the Christmas pageant, playing a sheep, and bleating my heart out. I remember the race of who will wake up first- the girls or the boys- and shake everyone else out of bed to open gifts. I remember waking up at 3:00 am with Andrew and watching early morning TV while eating sugar cookies and drinking a soda so we could beat the girls and be the first up for the first time. I remember Christmas Eve’s at my aunt’s, Bronner’s trips with my grandma, watching It’s A Wonderful Life with my dad, and making chocolate covered treats with my mom. The list could go on forever. All of these things warm my heart because they are moments in my past that were among the best, moments when I was most happy. I don’t know that there has ever been a year that I didn’t feel in the Christmas spirit.
This year my Christmas is going to be much different. This year I’ll be far away from any immediate family. It’s likely I won’t have a “White Christmas.” I won’t wake up to a tree exploding with gifts on Christmas morning. While this breaks my heart in many ways, it also warms my heart. That is because this year is the first year I get to begin my own, personal Christmas traditions. We had the same Christmas dinner almost every year growing up (with a shift in salad every now and then). This year, I get to decide what my Christmas dinner looks like. I won’t be able to frost Christmas cookies with the children, but I will be able to make my own Christmas treats. I won’t be helping set out gifts at midnight after all the youngins go to bed, but I will be able to find the perfect gift for my partner and make homemade gift baskets for my friends here in Oregon. It won’t be a Classic Braman Christmas, but it will be a Braman Christmas, an Eric Braman Christmas- with a Kris and Ackley twist.
Kris and I may have different views on what Christmas means to us, but there are a few things we agree on: we value quality time, we love our puppy, we care deeply for each other, and we love wine. With all these things combined, I can’t see this Christmas being ruined by any geographical divides, disagreements on Christmas tunes, or rainy weather- Christmas is about family, and family we have with each other.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends.