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Kathy Bradley - Feeling of Christmas should be embraced
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    I don’t really mind 80-degree weather in December. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I prefer it. I can sit on the deck and read the Sunday paper. I can take the dogs rambling wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I can get out of bed without gritting my teeth in preparation for the feel of cold tile on my bare feet.
    The problem with 80-degree weather in December, however, is — as everyone was sighing last week — “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas.”
    It was looking like Christmas, of course. Wreaths with red velvet bows. Twinkling lights. Holly and poinsettias. The ubiquitous Christmas sweater.
    So it was that into the contradiction between sight and sense that I woke up last Saturday to the sound of rain hitting the windows like bird shot. On Sunday it was the wind that greeted my awakening. On Monday it was the silence of hard cold.
    I stood at the door and looked outside at the frost wrapped over the landscape — in some places shiny and slick like aluminum foil, in others clear and wavy like Saran wrap. The whole world was white and pale gray and silver. Pulling my overcoat and gloves from the hall closet before rushing outside to warm up the car, I thought, “Now it feels like Christmas.”
    The funny thing is, of course, that most of the Christmases I’ve known have been nothing like iconic Currier and Ives prints. Only once can I remember snow anywhere near December 25 on the calendar. Old photographs of me and Keith and our cousins playing outside with our Christmas toys show us in nothing warmer than a sweatshirt and plenty of them show us with bare arms.
    The difference between romance and reality isn’t limited to weather issues. There’s that whole magazine- and Food Network-encouraged delusion of the formal meal where the family dons its nicest clothes and gathers around a table set with Grandmother’s china and silver and everyone comments on the deliciousness of the roasted Brussels sprouts.
    Does anyone arrive on the doorstep holding an armload of beautifully wrapped gifts none of which has a smooshed bow?
    I think it would be lovely to have that kind of Christmas — elegant, unhurried and draped in pristine snow — but the truth is that I would have no place in such a Christmas. I am neither elegant nor unhurried (though I am working on being both by the time I reach my dotage). My place is in a Christmas where people shaped by a life that isn’t always easy, hasn’t always been fair and has forced on them grief they feel ill-prepared to carry pause long enough to realize that what matters isn’t how Christmas looks, but how it feels.
    And how should it feel? How did Mary and Joseph feel? How did George Washington and his army, crossing the Delaware River, feel? How did the World War I soldiers who sang with their enemies on the battlefields of Flanders during the Christmas Truce of 1914 feel? How did the crew of Apollo 8, the first humans to orbit the moon and the first to spend Christmas in space, feel?
    We can only imagine, but I think they may have all felt similar things. Fear. Anticipation. Uncertainty. Awe. Because whatever happened next, whatever the results of the next few hours or days, the world would be changed forever.
    Christmas changed the world forever. May we embrace that feeling and go out and do the same.
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