Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Five Senses Of Christmas


The enduring image of Christmas for me is light in the midst of darkness. I know, I know, that's supposed to be the iconic image of Hanukkah, but while they attach different stories to that image, both obviously share a common season and a common environment -- the shortest days of the year and a desperate lack of sunlight. The Christmas-time response is to shine light against the darkness -- light that is symbolic of the star that announced Jesus' birth, symbolic of the light than shone around the shepherds, symbolic of the idea of Jesus' birth as the light of the world, etc. In particular for me, the most significant image is the lights of the Christmas tree in a dark room. That is the sight of Christmas to me.


Sounds also abound at Christmas -- the ringer at the Salvation Army kettle, the sounds of kids ripping the wrapping paper off of their eagerly awaited gifts, but for me the sound that means Christmas is music. Christmas music gets a pretty bad rap -- and much of it is deserved. There certainly is a lot of shlock Christmas muzak out there. For every "O Holy Night" or "The Christmas Song" there is a "Frosty The Snowman" or "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (hands down, least favorite Christmas song -- way too depressing). But on the whole, the good outweighs the bad, and the most evocative (for my money) is this, along with everything else on A Charlie Brown Christmas.


All kinds of smells say Christmas as well -- the scent of Christmas candles, the smell of Christmas cookies baking, the smell of Christmas dinner -- but hands down the most recognizable scent of Christmas is the smell of pine sap that fills the house when you first bring the tree into the house. When you smell that, you know that Christmas is just around the corner.


Glug. Sickeningly sweet. Use it in moderation. But if you're tasting it, it must be Christmas. No chance you're drinking it any other time of year.

The feel of that kiss under the mistletoe? You better believe it.


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