Faces at Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2007

'Tis the season once again. Christmas is so many things to so many people. It evokes a variety of responses which I like to refer to as the "Faces At Christmas."

The first face that comes to my mind is the "bah humbug" guise. I seem to see this face more and more.

In fact, I am sure others have seen this appearance from me. I know that among many of my male friends, it is a common sight.

The "bah humbug" face does not mean that we don't like Christmas. Well that's not completely true. Most of us have enjoyed many Christmas times in the past, but we now find the annual event a bit tiresome.

If you visit my coffee group, ask this simple question, "are you ready for Christmas?" I can assure you the looks on several of the faces there will take on this sort of expression that says it all. They don't exactly grimace, as that would not be politically correct. They do voice the common refrain, however. "I'll be glad when it's over!" Yes the "bah humbuggers" are a sizable group. We go along with Christmas because it is easier than the alternative. We put on a happy face and do our best to enjoy ourselves.

The second major group are those that make their living from Christmas. They have many varied and different faces. Their most common facade is the pleasant face they present when they are trying to sell you something for Christmas. "May I help you?" is the precursor to the business look of Christmas. For some reason, our country and our economy has become inextricably tied to this annual holiday celebration. It is so connected, that if we have a poor shopping season for Christmas, then the entire economy begins to suffer and worry.

That's why you see the looks on the faces of business people. Sometimes they begin to grow tired after so many hours of helping shoppers. Sometimes they take on the looks of strain caused by the worry over the progress of sales. In the end, there will be relief on these faces.

Regardless of the success level this shopping season brings them, they will be happy to see it come to an end. The third face is one I find warming on a personal level. It is the face of people including both friends and just people in general. It is the smile and greeting they give you when you meet them during the season. It can be in a mall, a restaurant, a church, or even at a party. No matter how bad the year has been or their lives may be, people seem to be in a festive cheery mood as the holiday finally nears.

"Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" are words repeated with smiles, handshakes, and embraces over and over during the holidays. We seem to have a need for the warmth and comfort of our fellow man at Christmas. The final face is the one that makes it all worth while. It is the posture of simple exuberance that one sees on the faces of the little ones. There is no other look like it, and that is the one special face of Christmas.

I like to see the change in the faces of a group of children, who are under the age of five, when I ask them if they have seen Santa Clause yet. Their eyes and expressions immediately change. Wonder, excitement, concern, and mystery all ply their portion of the child's countenance.

There is and always has been the mystery of Santa Claus. We all know and love the innocence of those who faithfully believe as once we did.

I suspect you may have a wistful look as you now read this. For none of us is the happier for the loss of the belief in "Old St. Nick." Yes these children's faces are without a doubt the greatest sight during the holidays. Only a child can savor that special Christmas that really only comes once in their lives.

That one year when they are old enough to understand the mystery of Santa, but still young enough to totally believe. It is that marvelous age when they have no doubt that Santa is coming Christmas Eve.

They are so certain that next morning when they awake from their sleep, they will find missing the cookies and milk which they left for Santa. They find the wonderfully wrapped presents placed under the tree just for them It is their faces as they tear at the wrapping paper.

Consumed by the weeks of anticipation, they rip away as fast as possible. Their frenzy has no time for grandparents to stop them long enough to take a picture.

Yes this is the face that makes it all worth while.

Christmas without these little ones would not be worth having. Adults, family, and friends make the best of it, but if there are no little ones around, there are no faces of Christmas that I really find fulfilling.

Give me those who still believe, and let me see these faces at Christmas.