Christmastime… it is a feeling in the air

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Dear Friend,

This season finds me in a pensive mood, pondering words to paint what I think, truly, is will-o-wisp as a feeling. How to hold it in our hands once more!

I am thinking back, like Dickens in his story of ghosts and treasured days and Tiny Tim, to what made me fall in love with Christmastime from my first memories. Then, swinging forward to now…and what the world seems to have lost…forsaken…or forgotten as a dream…

So much more than the modern idea of holiday magic.

So much more than all about you and me.

It was the feeling in the air I loved!

At school, it was the way mystery joined hands with anticipation in the miracle of wonder. Simple as reams of red and green paper awaiting our transformation to gaily strung garlands enveloping one end of our room to the other. It was chattering and laughing and wrapping secret Santa gifts with my fellow Brownie members in a room after school…and tasting my first new lifesaver flavor – choco mint! – when my BFF Terri surreptitiously slipped me one. The light in both our eyes as we rolled it on our tongues.

It was standing in the top row of our tiered choir stage, listening to the chittering of all our parents waiting in the audience beyond the curtain, feeling suddenly overwhelmingly shy, yet jittery with the thrill of how we were going to amaze them!

And the way teachers carved STORY as a special hour into our study days… a time to set our minds to picturing scenes in imagination, to falling in love with “The Little Matchgirl,” understanding what made Scrooge bitter, imagining ourselves outside the Bethlehem stable peeking in or slipping across hay to gently caress the cheek of our newborn Lord, feather-touch his eyelashes.

It was the standing side by side in a candlelit church, running my hands over my new and luscious-to-me furry coat, hearing the rapture of Glo-o-o-ria sung out for the first time and wanting to hold it close inside me, forever… (Read MAJESTY – Part One).

And the silly puns and joking laughter as classmates sang out what we thought so hilarious – “C’ya sometime next year!” As though we were fooling each other that it would be months instead of two weeks away…

At home, it was the fragrance of raisins and cinnamon and rolls baking, the scent of fresh pine, the sparkle of lights on a tree. It was the nightly love of darkening everything but that tree, the sitting under it’s golden light, letting the carols coming from our stereo flow silvery moonbeams over me.

It was music from composers and lyricists and tenors who knew and understood the FEELING. For they were writing it across my spirit with words of White Christmas- dreaming and sounds of silver bells on corners ringing and the thought of mysterious-sounding chestnuts roasting. And somehow weaving them as one heart into the greater miracle of Silent Night, The First Noel, O Holy Night… And into the wonder that so much of this heart-stirring, joy singing music came from men of a Jewish background in greats like Irving Berlin and Mel Torme who more than “got” the FEELING. No “Baby, I need ya and let me tell ya all bout me and my needs…” but words and melodies to lift high like bells upon the air…

It was the looking forward to once a year variety specials featuring favorite singers and their families dressed like Dickens carolers of yore and bringing living Christmas cards to our living room. They were all the more magical because we couldn’t tape them… or postpone them. We sometimes even got to stay up later to see them! They came like gifts that must be opened at a set time… as did the beautiful, touching, meaningful films that somehow so easily, charmingly spoke compassion, caring, giving of yourself to others at Christmas and every day to me… and spun Christmas dreams and prayers within me, like silvery threads on our tree.

It was the stars twinkling at the beginning of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” talking of a man who needed prayer and hope and lifting my heart to faith and prayers of my own.
And the jingle bell music of “Miracle on 34th Street” that still gives me that FEELING each time I hear it…the message of believing against all that only SEEMS to be true, the being there to encourage others, the sweetness of heart that came across in this Santa, more like a man of God than a jolly old guy in a red suit.

It was the dancing, singing of Bing Crosby in “Holiday Inn,” “White Christmas,” “Going My Way” that set my own feet to tapping, voice to singing.

And the counting days until we could get together with close friends at their house to watch the announced debut of what sounded so fun – Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol! The falling in love with the Broadway music-sound of it so that some of those songs still ring in my mind… (Ringle, ringle… coins that go jingle…)

scan0012It was the dressing up to go downtown with mom and dad and walk through wonderlands of store windows and old department stores of beautiful architecture and all-out decorations, a stunning tree that spanned three floors… not so much to buy, but to become part of, like skaters on an ice pond waltzing to merry music…
Yes, oh yes… like a song of the same name… along with the truest reason of the season, it still is all this Christmas FEELING, I love.

But… it all seems so… missing… in today’s world. Not only not Christ-centered, but overwhelmingly me-centered. What I can get. Who I can get.

Movies and songs that extol the same and talk about the season as a different kind of magic.  A time when self fulfilling dreams come true rather than a Father’s-dream come to Presence.

I stand in dumbfounded wonder when I hear so many saying, “I hate this time of year. I hate Christmas music. I can’t wait till it’s over,”  “Halloween is my favorite time of year.” And find myself dashing away mist from my eyes over what seems lost.

I want it back for the newest generations, our country, our world. The feeling… in the air. Silver bells… meeting smile after smile… the simple joys. The warmth of His Spirit taking residence in our hearts and reaching out to others in and through us… the caring one to one… the sense that we are one in celebrating the Greatest Gift… and wishing another “Merry Christmas” is considered a blessing to all…

All of these thoughts were spinning as I came out of the mall post office Friday afternoon, along with some commissioned artwork I was planning. I’d just been inside getting quotes for mail costs, when coming out I ran into a friend and neighbor talking away on her cell. She motioned for me to wait, clicked her phone shut and brightly asked, “What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?”

“Why?” I asked.

“I have an extra ticket to a Christmas play, my gift to you – wanna come?”

I had drawings to do and time was getting shorter. But…there it was, in her eyes, in her voice. The feeling in the air I’ve been missing.

“Sounds fun!” I enthused, while quickly figuring how I could still get started on my project.

“K, then,” she said, “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 1!”

I couldn’t even anticipate then the silver ornament blessing the next day would bring…

christmas decorations Well, as often happens in lengthy Christmas letter-writing such as this, I’m thinking I’ll pause here for now… pick up on this story of this play tomorrow or so…because it really does deserve the front stage on this page.   And I want you each to feel that feeling with me as I try to put you there in a small old church turned theater where heartwarming true story renewed me like a fresh wind…

Please join me here for the ending to this letter…

And if you’ve missed any so far,

Read my introductory Advent post and follow this series of “you’ve got mail” here…   Christmas Letters

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

…Question to Ponder…

If you could share something about the way Christmas transforms  “the feeling in the air” for you, how would you describe it to a young person today?  Do you have to look harder for it today?

©  Pam Depoyan

P.S.

I was preparing several drawings to display at a local bookstore this month, when I thought of including something with Santa.  Wanting it to reflect a tender quality, I thought of Miracle on 34th Street… how that story has always seemed more than just about the guy in the red suit to me.  How the original portrays such a sweetness among the characters… and even, somehow, speaks to me of God’s miracles.

So, I just finished this sketch last week!  (Don’t know why my computer adds a hint of color strangely… but it is all black and white.) I love the way Natalie Wood had her cheek pressed against Edmund Gwen’s (Santa’s), and if you know the story, it’s because he was her dear friend, more than the Santa she didn’t really believe in.  I think it resonates to me, speaks of children I’ve loved who have put their cheeks against mine with love… and I am hoping it resonates with you too!  

And if anyone would like to purchase a print as perhaps a little of that “Old fashioned Christmas feeling” I’ve just described here…  it would be my joy to talk with you about it!  Just email me at pam.depoyan@gmail.com

 The pen and ink of the department store is from a greeting card design I drew last year… another of those memories that stay with me… and I hope touches you too.

Please do not copy the artwork without permission.

Sharing:

Blessing Counters 

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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22 Responses to Christmastime… it is a feeling in the air

  1. Pam, I am stunned right now! Alone in my house this morning, nervously getting ready, (I have my oral surgery this afternoon), I put on my Itunes Christmas playlist to distract me. Listening to old Mitch Miller, Bing Crosy, Burl Ives, I began to ponder what you did. What has happened to Christmas and that Christmas feeling?? In my own thoughts, I could not put a finger on it – until I read your post… As I read, I felt like Charlie Brown when he said to Lucy, “THAT’S IT!!!”. You articulated so beautifully the very Christmas feelings and experiences I “used” to enjoy as a little girl, but now as a society and families who get caught up in that, the “feeling” of Christmas is all but gone.

    Your post convicted me that the true Christmas feeling is wrapped up in me and my focus – to focus on Christ and everything He designed to mirror His image to others, like marriages and family.

    As always, I’m in awe of the gift of writing thoughts to paper that God has given you. You are such a dear blessing.

    Merry Christmas!!

    P.S. I went to my first big play to see White Christmas this past weekend. It was held in an old theater filled with opulence. It was a simply magical event!

    • OHHHH… White christmas in an opulent old theater! That does sound magical!! I’m so glad you could go…

      And I’m thankful for your words on this post and what I was trying to express! I was beginning to think it wasn’t resonating and maybe I should just erase this post. Your words made me misty too because it is so true, isn’t it? There was just something special in the air back then, and I’m so glad you know what I mean! (Sometimes it almost feels like I dreamed it was that way or something… ) It touches me to know too that the Holy Spirit has been speaking some of the same hard to articulate things into your own heart and that my attempt to put it into words rang so true to you… You are a dear blessing to me too, Karen, with your thoughtful, blessing-filled comments.

      Blessing to you and your teeth today! May it heal quickly and easily! Oral surgery is no fun! Ps 107:20, His word of healing sent to you!

  2. misskathypwp says:

    Oh my! You have been hanging with me in my world! I so identified with your imagery and the pictures painted here of bygone Christmas pasts–we so truly need restored today. I am thankful that there is a physical record of all the elements of Christmas you mentioned. I use them to transform my home into a representation of “Christmas” in the feeling you so describe. It’s like a child trying to capture in a drawing their understanding of a scene described to them. EVERYTHING points to my Lord–Jesus–the Reason for the Season. Vintage elements surround me and I cuddle up on the Lord’s lap and listen to His heart tell me His Christmas story. Through my own writing and storytelling ministry, I use these “props” to connect with modern audiences to help them remember . . . remember . . . ponder and purpose to go forth taking His Spirit into all these material joys of the season. Thank you for sharing your touching words!
    Joy!
    Kathy

    • Thank you for sharing all that with me, Kathy! I’ve just been thinking so much on it lately… with a broken shoulder, I’m not even decorating much this year, but I started thinking how even the secular music and movies used to fit so beautifully with the meaning of it all – like you said, vintage elements too… May all your storytelling and writing shine that beautiful “feeling” and His Glory to all you share with! Thanks for blessing me with knowing how this rang true to you too! Have a merry, merry Christmas! (Can hear Judy Garland singing in a movie I just watched again the other day… In the Good Old Summertime… a Christmas beauty despite the title… )

  3. Thank you for sharing your memories and your feelings through your words. We live in a fallen world, yet, because of Christ we still have hope. Hope found in Christmas, and hope found in Easter. It’s a joy to be able to share that hope with others. Glad you did here. Have a blessed and merry Christmas! Following you at Suzie’s today.

  4. Christmas transforms the feeling in the air for me because of the value people place on getting together around Christmas. I love the importance of relationship! Thanks for sharing your memories and prompting the thoughts around them for each of us.

  5. Eileen says:

    Pam, many of the things you described in your thoughts, I could relate to, and they brought back a wonderful flow of memories for me about Christmas. Christmas is the fun and wonder of all of those things you described. And especially for me, it is that oneness with Christ, as I gaze at the very still, holy scene of the Creche, in Church, on Christmas morn, and take in the awesome fact, that the Son of God came down to this earth as a gift for each one of us. He lay as a babe in the manger as gift to us, and ultimately, He, as Son of God, gave us the ultimate gift at Calvary, as He hung on the cross. We are so blessed to have a God like this! Such wonder- such gift!

  6. Carrie says:

    What beautiful memories you have! Thank you for sharing them. I too wish our society would take the “me” out of the holiday. And turn our eyes to what truly matters. What child is going to remember the toys from one year to the next? Blessings to you and Merry Christmas!

    • Very simple memories, but so bound up with a warmth in the season that seems to be lost in many ways today. I really don’t recall any big present moments beyond one when I was about 5 and received a toy ironing board i wanted 🙂 – the actual day of Christmas never stood out to me as much as the love of the season… I wonder if today’s kids even know that same anticipation of feeling, with the commercial starting earlier and earlier. (Mom never let us begin Christmas till Thanksgiving was over, but of course now it starts in July! Yet at the same time, my love of Christmas made me often play Christmas music at different times of the year, and I always loved reading stories of Christmas any time…) Yet at the same time, the stores around me seem to have less and less of the beauty of decoration that always caught my imagination as a child. I agree… toys from year to year vanish. There’s so much more that I pray stays in the heart… Blessings to you too, Carrie! Beautiful Christmas!

  7. Linda Stoll says:

    lovely lovely artwork, pam … creative and winsome and delightful.

    merry merry christmas to you, to yours …

    • Thank you so much, Linda. I am praying for God to use it and to bring me some way of making regular income in this – He does seem to be opening it up again after so many years of not having time for it. There are so many artists out there… I need His wisdom on how to get it out there. 🙂 Merry, beauty, peace to your Christmas too!

  8. lynndmorrissey says:

    Pam, this is one of my favorite posts EVER of yours! I’m so glad that I finally had a chance to read it. It’s exquisitely written and brings back so many memories of Chrsitmas for me as a chld. I don’t remember a lot, but this nostalgic post helped me to draw them up, as from a well of beauty. Your reflections always do that for me! 🙂 And if people don’t have such memories, your beauty encourages them to forge their own now, for themselves and their children. I loved going with Mother and sometimes my grandmother on a bus to downtown St. Louis, where we would thread through crowded sidewalks and visit all three major department stores. My favorite was Scruggs (which everyone called The Leader), because there, behind giant plate-glass windows, was a life-size nativity scene. It seemed so much more glorious to me than those at other stores, with all their Christmas bells and whistles and lights that blinked and trains that sped through the fake town. I loved the beauty and simplicity of the christmas story depicted in the realistic figures. I could almost hear them speaking and the Christchild breathing. It was so beautiful and hopeful. I can’t even imagine a store with such a display today. And the Christmas music? What has happened to it. all we hear is about Rudolph and his red nose and Frosty, who I wish would just go and melt someplace. But yesterday, I actually heard Hark! The Herald Angels Sing in a global food store (where they sell foods from all around the world). And I started softly, but audibly singing the words as I shopped. I got some strange stares, but I didn’t care. Part of the celebration of Christmas is in being able to celebrate it publicly, such as all you have so eloquently described here. Maybe posts like this will make us long enough for what was that we will do something about it now….like opening our mouths to sing or to share the Gospel story audibly or in writing. I thank you for so doing, and wish you a very Merry Chrsitmas. thanks for your lovely card, too!
    Love
    Lynni
    excuse typos; no time to proof (NTTP….that’s my abbreviation for that, if you ever see me use it!)

    • Thank you for sharing all that, Lynn! I never heard of those stores you mentioned, but they sound exactly like what I remember. I feel today like I dreamed it all… or that I imagined that stores around here were actually much more decorated in the last 30 years than they are right now. I am completely deflated by what I’ve seen there this year… it just seems like a few slapdash wreaths, some sort of pitiful hanging white lights. Macy’s seems the most decked out like old times… but everything else, you have to really look to see an ornament here or there among the merchandise. And certainly, no windows like you describe! I wonder if the big city dept stores are still as they once were? Not that I’m looking for commercialism… certainly not! But just that beautiful way that it used to encompass all the world together in the celebration of Christmas. Certainly we had Rudolph and Frosty too when we were younger…but today there is so much raucous sounding Christmas music that jangles the nerves. All this stuff about Baby I can’t live without you or at best people trying to jazz up the beautiful old carols but making them sound unrecognizable to me. The feeling in the air… it seems to be missing, awol in the commonplace, though hopefully still in churches. But even there this year, I was sorely disappointed by a rocking laser show that purported to be Christmas music. I literally had to sit with my hands over my eyes most of the time because the light was painfully blinding and totally distracting. Makes me sound like a fuddy duddy… but I don’t really think I am. I just don’t see “worship” as singing and not being able to hear your own voice over all the amplification. What saddens me most is that this all seemed to disappear overnight from our world and I wonder if children or even young 20-somethings really would know what we mean… I’m so glad you were singing along to that carol in the store! (That’s another flabbergasting thing to me in our world…that today, people actually seem to take offense at caroling, when it used to be such a welcomed beautiful part of Christmas! Even in places where it doesn’t snow, like where I grew up…

      Glad you enjoyed the card! Thanks for your newsy letter too! Loved it!

  9. Pingback: I Saw One Christmas Ship Come Sailing In… | Writing… Apples of Gold

  10. lynndmorrissey says:

    Pam, I’m sad that you are not finding beautiful Christmas decorations. I haven’t even been to a single store yet, so I just don’t know. But last year, Macy’s did have some decos, and I loved your description of the big tree from years ago. I know this to be true where I lived too. Besides Scruggs, we went to Famous-Barr (which Macy’s bought here), and Stix, Baer, & Fuller, now called Dillards. Besides the gigantic display windows and all those mechanical scenes w/ trains, etc., which we loved to watch as kids (think Ralphie & Randy), the interiors were lavishly decorated. And real carols filled the air. Even in school, we always sang Christmas carols. It was such a joy. And these were public schools, with nativities, and real Christmas plays. It’s grievous to see the way Christ been removed from Christmas in the public square, and all in the name of the separation of church and state, which has an entirely different meaning from what authorities have contorted it to mean. Yes, very sad. And I’m finding if I say Merry Chrsitmas, clerks respond in kind occasionally, but usually with Happy Holidays or nothing at all.

    • Yes… I heard this on the radio this morning, “Thank you if you are brave enough to say ‘Merry Christmas…’ What? Brave? I can still see in my mind all the “Merry Christmas” signs that were commonplace when we were growing up, hear the voices of people in classic movies and in every place we went as kids… everyone calling “Merry Christmas!” Its so unbelievable that this should now be something uncommon… How can it be brave to say something so lovely? I think clerks are told to start with “Happy Holidays,” and okay to say “merry Christmas” if someone says it to them first. Mmm…. But what is beautiful is that holidays comes from holy days anyway… I love the Irving Berlin song “Happy Holidays” – it’s just sad that its come to replacing the merry.. instead of expressing the same…

  11. lynndmorrissey says:

    I agree, Pam. Why is that brave. I’m thinking we live in a brave, new world without the Lord. Tragic! And yes, likely they are advised as you sya, and I usually find after the HH greeting if I say MC, they will too. But my symphony guy just said, Good-bye. I was so saddened after I had just wished him a MC!

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