December 23rd, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 50
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On Christmas cheer and Christmas rest
Rick's Corner
When sleigh bells ring, one hears, but is one really listening? More to the point, would one really want to? The piercing jingle of sleigh bells, some have said, assaults one with guerilla tactics in the same way that the Christmas consumer creep now penetrates each snowless All Hallows’ Eve.

And yet, despite the greenish, Grinch-like pale that passes over one’s October face with a premonition of the coming Christmas; despite the inevitable keeping-up-with-the-Joneses; and, yes, despite even the myriad Christmas marketing tactics designed to separate one from one’s money in the pursuit of that scramble to match the Joneses’ new Subaru, Christmas décor, or whatever else; despite even your drunk and uncouth uncle aggressively voicing racial slurs over Christmas dinner—despite all of that, it must be said: there’s something of charm to the season.

It can be found far from yuletide tintinnabulum, in a Christmas concert from the local choir that somehow stirs a sense of reverence, even if you need to leave early, a casualty of the mid-December clamour. Or, for the childbearing among us, it shows itself in those moments when the tint of the impulse to consume is cracked, if briefly, by the happy face of a child finding surprise in a gift. Some might even find it in a little help from the Joneses shovelling snow out of the driveway (or seeing your uncle hurl in a newly piled snowbank).

Or we find it, in the true spirit of the thing, in the fundraisers and the donations that most characterize volunteer work at the end of each year; conversely, as well it’s found in the taking of what’s needed, wanted, or cherished from what’s donated.
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We find it even in Sparwood’s Greenwood Mall, sitting with Santa Claus for an afternoon.

Most of all, although maybe it’s just me, that charm will present itself when life recedes from the constant pull of money-earning and public life into something less eager for the expenditure of my time. Of course, this is not to say that being antisocial at Christmas is charming (anti-socialism rarely offers up any form of charm). Rather, after the long economic crescendo of Christmas, and starting about Christmas eve, the tightly clenched, bustling sphincter of the season softens some (to use a metaphor).

Time, that most scarce, volatile, and valuable currency, can be for a few days offered more freely, expended on the intimacy of home and heart. A sense of ease can approach more easily, you might say.

(There’s a story somewhere in all of this: It was that sense of easy ease, that way that proximity to Christmas eve has of cueing the anticipation of rest—it was that anticipation of utter relaxation that was crossing Dave’s mind when he pulled into his parent’s home in Little Narrows, Cape Breton. “It’s going to snow something fierce on the way there,” he’d heard Mary Churlington say to Morley before they’d left the house. “I don’t think I’d drive all the way to the country in that blizzard. That blizzard might just end Christmas early,” she’d said...—but I digress.)
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It’s this sort easiness that poses a challenge to the phrase, “Merry Christmas.” The adjective “merry” conjures a big man, probably Santa Claus, laughing heartily, laughing heartily in your ear without end. With this lout in mind, along with the incessant jingle of bells, we might as well offer the obvious paraphrase: “May you rest not until year’s end.” There’s no charm in that.

A revision and an upshot to these observations are evident. Here’s wishing you a Christmas restive and delightful, easy while full, thrifty yet generous; in short, charming.
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December 23rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 50
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