As we decorate our house for Christmas this month, I make sure to have a bottle of glue on hand. Every year we pack our decorations with care, but time takes its toll on treasures, which in some cases are even older than me. Inevitably, as we unpacked the Christmas baubles from the box, I found at least one piece in need of tinkering.
This year, an angel-shaped iron menorah lost its wings. After a dollop of adhesive, she’s ready to soar with Seraphim again.
Part of my family lore includes December about half a century ago when someone – I think it was a rowdy brother – accidentally knocked over one of the magi in our living room nativity scene, the poor wise man Lost my mind in the haggling. We rushed madly to the king’s head before our mother found out about the crime.
Every December, I marvel at how fragile Christmas can be when I reattach some missing tassels to vintage ornaments or lightly refresh a faded nativity. It’s amazing that this eggshell-thin weave of felt and balsa wood chips, wire and glass strands has survived the season. There must be something tender and enduring in the human spirit that we can carry something as delicate as Christmas through the centuries, passing its velvety magic from hand to hand, its essence intact Enduring without damage.
One of my family’s favorite holiday movies is “The Gathering,” a 1977 production starring Ed Asner, an aloof engineer who, after facing a health crisis, decides to call Estranged families join Christmas break reconciliation.As he waits for his grown children to return from afar, Asner’s troubled patriarch and his wife (played by Maureen Stapleton) haul long-neglected Christmas relics from the attic and restore them to their former glory – Replace the bulbs on your old string lights to brighten the faded luster of your heirloom ornaments
When Dad got to work, it was discovered that he was repairing more than just home decorations. He’s also trying to repair his own soul, a modern-day miser devoted to spiritual rejuvenation.
“The Gathering” resonated with generations of viewers, as most of us have personal shortcomings that we want to work through, especially in a season that’s grounded in moral reflection. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that the familiar Christmas question of childhood, “Am I a good boy?” has acquired a deeper dimension. Am I a good person this year? On this Christmas, as on other Christmases, the answer appears to be complicated. At such an anxious time in this country and the world, I could have done more to make things better.
With this realization, next week’s New Year’s resolutions can be built. For now, though, I will welcome Christmas and embrace its endless promise that all that is broken can be whole again.
Email Danny Heitman email@example.com.