If you've read my blog a few years you've probably noticed I'm not a huge fan of Christmas. At least, not the way it's celebrated in the U.S., especially.
But I do still enjoy Christmas movies and so yesterday Tom and I visited our tiny town library (where it's rather slim pickings dvd-wise) and came away with Christmas With the Cranks. We'd seen it a couple times before, but it had been two or three years.
It's a fun movie, I do enjoy it overall, but always--always--there's something in it which bothers the heck out of me. Which part is that? It's the part where the Cranks are viewed by their neighbors as totally selfish, thoughtless, uncompassionate people just because they're not decorating as usual, not spending $6,000 as usual on Christmas and its trappings, er, trimmings--but instead--are choosing to skip Christmas for one year and go on a Caribbean cruise, instead. And after the Cranks change their minds and "do Christmas" after all, there's a speech given where it's stated that the Cranks should be forgiven for having the selfish, thoughtless, uncompassionate idea of ever taking a cruise as a couple at Christmastime.
At no time did the movie even hint that the Cranks should be allowed freedom to make different choices than those of their neighbors, not as long as they weren't Jewish or weren't going to visit relatives out of town (as some of the other neighbors were and did).
Come on........... Give me (and the Cranks) a break! Their daughter wasn't coming home that year, they had no other children, they still chose to give their annual gift to a favorite charity and their church, they'd only be spending $3,000, not $6,000 and they were looking forward to getting away as a married couple after having raised a lovely daughter.
My take on this? It was the whole neighborhood who was being selfish. Good grief, the pressure they put on the Cranks was enormous. Pressure to lug out the huge, heavy Frosty the Snowman up on their roof like everyone else was doing. Pressure to decorate the outside of their house with lights and the inside with all things Christmas, pressure to buy a tree from the Scouts and calendars from the police and pressure to hold their annual (huge) Christmas party for all the neighbors at their own house. And when the Cranks wouldn't comply, oh my. The gossip amongst the neighbors was ghastly.
Well, I'll tell ya. Every single year for the past ten (or so) I've dreamed about skipping Christmas. At least, skipping the trappings which have become such a part of the whole month of December. Sometimes I sit upon the couch and just imagine what a Christmas-less December would be like and I let myself feel warm all over from the sense of relaxation which flows over me.
But what I usually end up doing is toning down Christmas more and more each year. I buy less, cook less and attend fewer parties (last year we attended none). And I think, in my heart, I'm hoping to arrive at that One Great December where I'll have spread the real spirit of Christmas all around through the previous 11 months, so much so, that I'll have earned a month off, a December off. One where I can just sit and relax in Peace on Earth and wish good will toward all men and meditate upon the One for whom Christmas is all about anyway.
And in that someday December if my neighbors see me as the Cranks' neighbors saw them, well, so be it. I'll just remind myself that God knows what's really going on inside my heart, He'll always give me my free will, He'll never force me to do anything... and that's always what will matter most.
A Caribbean cruise in December, though, wouldn't be too shabby, either. :)