It’s TWO DAYS before Christmas, Hanukkah is in full swing, and if you have time to read this, you’re either procrastinating last minute gift wrapping or you’ve developed the holiday adaptation for compulsive tendencies. Good on you, either way.
I like the holidays just fine. Beloved Offspring isn’t underfoot to supervise me, so I don’t have to get a tree, decorate, wrap presents, or otherwise crowd a goodly expanse of unstructured time with culturally mandated activities. Those activities were all well and good when I was parenting a minor child, but now I’m enjoying being in my prime, which often equates to being in my jammies during daylight hours.
Good on me.
What’s my favorite Christmas movie? The USA Today Happily Ever After blog asked this question of me not long ago (and we addressed it here as well), and I responded, “Rudolph.” From reading my books, you might think I have a thing for guys with unapologetic noses (I do) but the charm of that video for me has more to do with how no major character in the story fits in. Hermey wants to be a dentist, not a Christmas elf. The Bumble hates Christmas, and Rudolph—a herd animal trying to impress a dame—goes off into the great northern wilderness on an ill advised solitary pout.
Hermey and Rudolph come across what for me is the heart of the story, the Island of Misfit Toys. This collection of unfortunates includes a jack-in-the-box named Charlie, a spotted elephant, a train with square wheels, and other “misfit” toys who wait every Christmas for Santa to take them to children who would love them as they are, only to be disappointed, year after year.
Are you getting this?
We’re told Christmas is about tryptophan overload, gatherings of loved ones, and wishes coming true, but before we can appreciate any of that, we each of us have to visit the Island of Misfit Toys—maybe we even spend a few years there. Christmas and Hanukkah aren’t events on the calendar. They’re the candle in the window when we’re ready to come back from our solitary pouts, the sound of jingle bells coming to our doorstep when we think Santa has flown over our island yet again, an invitation to open up a dentist’s shop at the North Pole. The presents, feasting and gathering are not the main event, they’re punctuation marks to the real punch line.
So here is my challenge to you: This Christmas, call upon your courageous, innocent heart and love a misfit toy, befriend the Abominable Snow Monster (aka the Bumble), go prospecting for peppermint, admire an unapologetic nose, and see a snowstorm as opportunity. Christmas isn’t a day of the year, it isn’t a feeling, it’s YOU and the love you have to give.