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    What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

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    Paeter
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    What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  Paeter on December 8th 2016, 10:03 am

    Can't... contain.... the Christmas...

    Must... talk about it...


    Not sure what it is but this year the "Christmas feels" came on like gangbusters. Yes, that's right. Like "gangbusters". (Do we have "gangbusters" anymore, or was that just some thing in the 30's?)

    Often when I first put on Christmas music and put up decorations it feels like I'm "forcing" Christmas feels at first, which can last even all the way up until Christmas eve. But this year I started getting the feels almost right away, even before Thanksgiving.

    Playing Christmas music all day while I work or drive, regular doses of my ever improving Mint Hot Chocolate recipe, Christmas activities with family... (Had an AWESOME night hanging with my sister Karyne last night. We recorded a complete playthrough of the NES Barbie game, which you'll probably see in early 2017. Such a precious relationship to me. With my sister, not with Barbie.)

    A lot of it is nostalgia, I think. But as I listen to old-timey Christmas music (y'know, the kind that still has Christmas songs now and then about JESUS) the truth of the lyrics cuts through and I'm moved again by the baffling act of love from Jesus and the Father. (Don't mean to neglect the Spirit, but Father-Son dynamics are something I understand more these days.) I'm also moved with relief and sometimes even hopeful tears at the thought of us all being finally, completely rescued and our peace with God extending into peace with all people and creation. No more death, loss or pain. No suffering. That's what Jesus came to give us, for reasons I'll probably never fully understand. (Praise Yahweh! Thank you for using this season to remind me of who you are!)

    So I'm curious what things have typically made you get the Christmas "feels" in past years, or what things might be doing it for you this year. Don't be shy! It can be something strange, nostalgic, whatever. Just curious if anyone else is getting the feels and what's doing it for you.


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    Reed Benson

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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  Reed Benson on December 11th 2016, 4:06 am

    Living in a country that doesn't traditionally observe Christmas, it's been really hard to get into the spirit over the last few years. I really noticed it last year, partially because I had fewer celebrations to go to, and partially because my sister (who also lives in China, albeit in a different city) brought it up.

    Last year, I really tried. We put up decorations in the windows, a small (fake) tree in the corner, and a little Nativity scene on one of the shelves. I played Christmas music often and listened to pretty much nothing else (besides podcasts) during bus and subway rides. I watched all the Christmas movies I could find. My sister came up and watched A Christmas Story with us while we ate gingerbread cookies (from IKEA), and it even snowed on Christmas night. But through all of that, it never felt like the real deal.

    I think what I'm missing is the fact that everyone else is celebrating at the same time. In the States, I would go outside and see Christmas decorations in yards, Christmas specials advertised in stores, Christmas-themed items available at gas stations, etc. I'd turn on the TV or radio and get Christmas programming. My church would do Advent stuff and have a giving tree for charity. And on Christmas Day, everything would be closed except the 24-hour gas stations and the Chinese restaurants. If I went out for a drive, traffic would be sparse.

    In China, the most I get when I go to the store is some tacky decorations for sale and English Christmas music playing the the speaker. I don't think the decorations sell that well, or people just don't put them in their windows. A lot of stores will put up some Santa faces in the windows, but many of them just leave them up all year anyway, so they kind of lose their meaning.

    And on Christmas Day, everything continues as normal. There's hardly any Christmas programming (it is an atheist state, after all, and Christmas is a Western holiday).

    So I don't get a lot of Christmas-y feelings around here, as much as I try. I'm not trying as hard this year. I'll probably ramp it up in the last week or so, but I'm not expecting much. I hope to bring my wife to the States for the holidays in the next couple of years, but that's only if we can afford it.
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  AdamCollings on December 11th 2016, 4:49 pm

    I've been a bit scroogy this year actually. Whenever the kids would excitedly mention that Christmas was approaching I'd inwardly groan. Didn't help that they started in about September. Anyway, since December hit I've been starting to feel it. We got the tree up and some decorations. Yesterday we had a hamper service at our church, where we invite people with an identified need to come to church and receive a food hamper. We were serving as host to a family but they weren't able to come due to a sick child, so we delivered the hamper to their house. That was definitely a meaningful experience, and in line with the true Christmas spirit.

    Anyway, this last weekend I mowed the jungle (lawn) so we can start using the backyard again, and started cleaning out the pool. (I know, so counter-intuitive to most of you) so feeling it a bit more now.

    I think the biggest thing is, I'm just so exhausted with the end of the year that it's hard to feel enthusiastic about anything much. We haven't done much Christmas shopping yet. If my wife could get a few more shifts that would certainly help a lot.
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  Paeter on December 12th 2016, 9:54 am

    I was talking to my wife Holly last night about "conjuring up " Christmas feels. What I've realized (and then quickly forgotten) several times in the last few years is how Christmas nostalgia is hard to conjure, it has to be triggered by something for me most times. Which means my efforts at conjuring the feels might better be spent on just creating new fun/meaningful experiences for me and my family that we'll enjoy remembering tomorrow and then years from now as the memories are triggered. In other words, today's nostalgia is about yesterday's experiences, and tomorrows nostalgia is about what I do today.

    With that realization I started modifying my attitude about doing things with my family that aren't super fun around this time of year (going to look at model trains, attending community band christmas concerts, etc.) but that create unique experiences and memories that maybe don't feel like Christmas right now, but they will feel like Christmas in two years.

    I mention that in part thinking about your situation, Reed. Sorry to hear that the feels are hard to come by. But I wonder if (assuming you guys are "lifers" in China) Christmas will slowly develop a new norm with it's own unique feel that you can enjoy. Or maybe (if you guys aren't "lifers" there), you'll look back on "The China Christmases" with some unique, sweet memories that can never be recaptured in the states.

    Either way, I hope you and your wife have some great quiet moments together that, intentionally or otherwise, will mark this season of year and this season of your lives in a beautiful way.


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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  mikel.withers on December 12th 2016, 3:15 pm

    I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of Christmas.

    That's not entirely true. I'm just not a fan of the presents and "family time" and that aspect of it.

    Background: when I was a kid, we were poor (thus the unpleasant association with the presents bit) but we did own forested acreage that was connected to farms, scrub, more forest... not exactly "wild", but "untouched".
    When I was 8 years old, I was able to cross the road, on my own, and go play in the woods. And that is what I did. I'd leave in the morning, and my parents would beep the car horn when dinner was ready in the evening.
    Anyway, I loved rainstorms because the forest would really take on an almost mystical bent, where a deer, coyote, turkey flock, or pheasant might get within a few steps of you without notice.
    But in the winter, when night fell early, the moon would make a bluish glow on the snow and the silence would be almost palpable-nothing moving but your breath rising and dissipating.
    Anyway, there would come a moment, when the cold just seeped in. When my knit mittens got so packed with snow that they didn't help, when the bread wrappers over my socks could no longer keep my toes from going numb, when my nose ran, and my ears felt like they could snap off, and a wood stove waited to dry me out... Something about that always just tugged at my heart. I doubt I would have gotten an allegory of coming in out of the cold or anything like that, but maybe it is the truth that myth points to - a form of "God shaped hole" and this was roughly the same shape.
    Well, to cut myself off from rambling too much more:
    When it is a quiet night, the moon is out, and snow is gently falling... doesn't matter what time of year it is, that is what makes me think of Christmas.
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  AdamCollings on December 12th 2016, 6:38 pm

    Sounds like an amazing place to grow up Mike. I can imagine the many adventures you'd have had. It would have been great food for the imagination.
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  Paeter on December 13th 2016, 9:08 am

    mikel.withers wrote:
    When it is a quiet night, the moon is out, and snow is gently falling... doesn't matter what time of year it is, that is what makes me think of Christmas.

    Dude that is so amazing and unique! I hope somewhere amidst the other noisy trappings of the season you get a few quiet moments to get the feels that take you back to that. Sounds incredible. What a gift you had.


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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  mikel.withers on December 13th 2016, 10:04 am

    Funny thing is: I abhor silence. -except under a very few, specific circumstances.

    I didn't think so at the time... I just assumed everyone's experience was something like mine... but it was a real blessing to live where I did, when I did. I wish I had been able to take pictures of the gorge, the giant igneous boulder sitting in the middle of the stream surrounded by sedimentary bedrock, the apple orchards, the grass taller than I am, the ...well, just the million and one little things that defined my life for a decade and a half.
    Now, I'm getting all nostalgic and depressed...
    One of my life goals is to be able to buy "land" again someday. If not, maybe Heaven will surpass it... who am I kidding? I'll get better than I had.
    Which leads us back to...
    santa Merry Christmas
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  UKSteve on December 13th 2016, 12:17 pm

    What makes it feel like Christmas? Mainly cracking open the Christmas CDs (which do contain the odd carol and Jesus song here, but also a fair amount of weird, obscure Christmassy music primarily to annoy my family).

    In recent years that YouTube video of Jean-Luc Picard doing 'Let It Snow!' has done the rounds early in December and given me a festive chuckle. (Shut up Wesley.)

    And Christmas just isn't Christmas until I've heard Chiron Beta Prime - which I don't think I have this year, so...
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  mikel.withers on December 13th 2016, 1:44 pm

    Well, I have a new top-5 Christmas song, now.
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  AdamCollings on December 13th 2016, 4:51 pm

    UKSteve wrote:And Christmas just isn't Christmas until I've heard Chiron Beta Prime - which I don't think I have this year, so...

    Awesome. Just added it to my Christmas mix on Spotify.
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  Paeter on December 14th 2016, 1:02 pm

    Sweet! I like it even better without watching the video. My dark imagination and sense of humor kicks in. Frickin FUNNY!


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    Reed Benson

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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  Reed Benson on December 14th 2016, 10:56 pm

    That song is great. I thank thee for sharing.
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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  AdamCollings on December 16th 2016, 12:59 am

    Speaking of geeky Christmas songs, I have to share this one

    https://open.spotify.com/track/3Q4LwudOsV7pxS6NsPhMe1

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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  Paeter on December 16th 2016, 9:48 am

    Nice.


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    Re: What Makes It Feel Like "Christmas"?

    Post  AdamCollings on December 21st 2016, 6:13 pm

    Tomorrow, for the last day, we stop working at lunch time, and go have a meal together at a restaurant.
    Just two more days and I'm done with work for the year.
    I .... think ..... I ...... can ...... make ........ it .......

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