With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, it is now time to set our sights on Christmas as I enjoy celebrating December 1st with a sunny morning view at the beach. It all begins for Joanne and I tomorrow as we make the long drive to Mount Hood down in Oregon to perform a wedding ceremony at the beautiful and very snowy Timberline Lodge. We’ll get to enjoy the snow and fireplace for a few days before heading back for the annual tree lighting celebration here in my corner of the world. I have the honor of once again speaking at the event and trying to add a bit of Christmas meaning to the beginning of the season. It’s a tradition here which really kicks off the season for all of those who will be hanging out with us. Every place that we’ve lived through the years has held to their own unique celebrations of the season. Joanne and I have always added our own to the mix to create memories that are unique to every place and every year.
Chances are, that wherever you are reading this, your town, city, or district has their own ways of trying to help people celebrate the season. We have a unique one here that I’ve been reminded of just this morning. It’s one of those “you have to do this” at least once in your life moments that people tell you about when you move into an area. It’s also one of those that, you find out later, people go once or twice and then can’t really tell you why they quit going. Here in my place of residence, one of these events is known simply as “The Christmas Ships”. The concept is very simple. This fleet of dinner type cruise ships are all decorated for the holidays, they grab a local choir that knows some Christmas music, and they set sail all around our peninsula. A schedule is posted for their arrival times at the best traditional viewing …and listening places…and people go there.
Each year the conversation goes, “have you ever seen…., are you going to see…why haven’t you seen….well I used to go see…” the Christmas ships. It is true, that they are beautiful to see out on the water…assuming that you’re not trying to view them in a gale force rain storm. It is true that the music is nice…the choirs are fairly talented which is why they get free passage on this tradition. It might be true that everyone should see them once, but I can’t really say that I’ve seen them more, nor do I want to see them more than once. Why? I’m glad that you asked.
I’ve pondered this mystery every year since seeing them a few years back. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because it’s not very experiential…unless of course you included frozen ears and toes as the experience. It is not really participatory. It is a spectator event. You just really, for the most part, watch… and in most venues you are watching from a distance, depending on tide and all that. It’s like watching a television show while you are cold and or wet. I don’t really enjoy that sensation, which is why my big screen is inside my family room and not out on my deck.
Here’s my thing…while I do enjoy a good spectator event as much as the next person, life is too short to have it filled with watching things happen. In my community o’ faith we believe that Christmas can once again change the world. But it is not going to change by getting more people to watch. For us it means getting more people involved in doing the changing. We have this thing that we’ve joined called Advent Conspiracy which is really just a cool name to describe a new attitude about how we celebrate Christmas. Along with and sometimes instead of all of the gift hunting, we do things like volunteer at a homeless mission, a food bank, and community functions. We concentrate on raising money for our next well that we’ll get to drill next Summer. And long the way I’ve discovered something that is not really all that profound. I’ve discovered that there are so many more people like me who aren’t really looking for another chance to watch something happen. They want to make it happen.