This is the story of how Christmas became my favorite holiday ever.
Once upon a time, there was a little mage. If you’re wondering, that’s something between a caddy and a fully equipped wizard. Also, it was me.
When I was young, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. I think I might just be the only writer in this 26-day collab who didn’t celebrate Christmas as a child. I’ll have you know it was very much against my will. Of course, it was. What kid wouldn’t want a day dedicated to food and festivities, presents, electric lights, and decorations of all sorts?
Back then, my dad was pretty insistent upon Jesus of Nazareth not being born on Christmas Day, so why celebrate a non-birthday with commercialism? But I didn’t exactly care how much historical weight this long-running winter tradition actually held. And so, I celebrated Christmas once or thrice at my grandma’s house and that was it, all the while nursing a silent resentment for the stricter sects of denominational religion.
I never saw the Christmas specials. I didn’t hear much Christmas music. I remember the first time I saw Home Alone in my twenties. I still have more Christmas classics to catch up on, though I’ve firmly decided that It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies, for all its hopeful sense of raging against mere normalcy.
Kinda like a red mage.
Maybe I’m just catching up on all the Christmas-ness I missed as a kid, having long ago pardoned my father after watching him being strong-armed into the holiday by his wife (that was tongue-in-cheek, just fyi), and maybe that’s why Christmas is now my favorite holiday.
Maybe that’s why I woke up at the butt crack of dawn on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day to chase my kids around the house screaming carols like an operatic diva hyped up on too much egg nog and hot chocolate. I love the movies, the lyrics, the music, the warmth, the symbolism, the traditions, the triumph of peace and good will and charity. I thumb my nose at the vapid consumerism like everybody else, knowing full well that the films which dare ask “What is even Christmas about?” don’t do much to answer that question beyond “cozy feelings”, falling utterly short of a true, satisfactory definition, yet that still doesn’t sway my affection for the holiday.
In today’s day and age, we’re well past the toy soldiers, the dollies, and the wooden blocks of classic Christmas tunes. They’ve been replaced by shinier new items like iPads, mobile phones, tablets, and computers, and video games, of course. And cars, I assume, since people are always buying cars on Christmas in those commercials. “Hey, honey! I thought we’d enter the New Year in debt! Merry Christmas!”
Heck, we don’t even really need Santa himself. He came from a bygone era when toys were scarce, but now “toys in every store” is all year round. There are Walmarts bigger than Santa’s workshop could ever be. We’ve so much to enjoy with more constancy than ever. Santa’s bag is full of un-sensational relics and novelties we’d undoubtedly quickly grow bored of, as deafeningly droll as the sound of bells ringing outside of grocery stores begging for our beloved chump change. Santa himself is rendered an anachronism.
Kinda like a red mage.
Christmas traditions limp on, but now it’s over. Sure, it’s Boxing Day in some regions, but that will be over too before you know it. Then it’s New Years Day and then it’s back to ye olde grind in 2019 and starting all over again. That’s a bit depressing, is it? Well, let’s back track a little bit and think about taking each day at a time, treasuring the moments we get to have and think about the nature of happiness.
This year, I got a Hyrulian hoodie, the Journey soundtrack on vinyl, annual passes to the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park to enjoy with my kids, and wine and chocolates. Yes, people know what I like. I make sure that they do. All of these things are great but it’s not really what Christmas is about, is it? At the end of the day, you’re left with some awesome items, bits of wrapping paper scattered around the floor, those coconut chocolates sitting cold in the package, kids with an insane sugar rush, and occasionally a tremendous sense of emptiness as palpable as any unrealized hype has ever been when anticipation far outpaces reality.
I won’t sermonize this article, since I’m sensitive toward a “time-and-place” and also toward the great inclusivity that Christmas has been able to afford in welcoming in anyone to celebrate whether religious or not (which is kind of the Christmas thing to do, innit?), but I will say that Christmas, even Santa, are symbols, representations for giving to others. Over this past weekend, we took some presents to our neighbors and for the first time, I caught my eldest (3-years-old) catch onto the addiction of giving. When we were done, he said, “I want to give more presents!”
THAT is Christmas. Christmas is about charity, others, selflessness. Giving, from the Aristotelian Prime “Giver” all the way down to little you on this minuscule speck floating in space giving something to someone. That “warm, fuzzy feeling”? It’s not from passing ’round the coffee and the pumpkin pie. It’s not from sating your impossible self with overabundance. It’s not from showing that final ultimately satisfying thing to eyes that will never be satisfied. It’s about giving.
I’ve already told my children that Santa is a folktale, and the origins of the story and what not, but I’ve tried to make it valuable to them as more than a nursery rhyme, by telling them that he represents the unapologetic jolliness of someone who gives for a living. Is this the secret to happiness? Well, it might be part of it. Giving probably explains how people from any ethnic background, country, culture, creed, or poverty level retain their happiness.
Look, haven’t you seen A Christmas Carol?
Turns out these stories (well, the timeless ones, at least) are trying to tell us something, in degrees of sappiness, admittedly, but we’ve over-heard their wisdom into oblivion:
“Redemption is real.”
“It’s too late for no one.”
“Real happiness and contentment exists.”
“Thinking of others before yourself is the way to live your life.”
The exciting realization is that you can be happy like you were happy when you gave something from your heart to your spouse, your child, your family member, your friend… you can be happy like that whenever you want, simply because you can give whenever you want. You can be a part of a community whenever you want. You can be a meaningful person in someone’s life whenever you want. You can be a friend whenever you want. Essentially, symbolically, you can give of yourself and have Christmas whenever you want, free from rampant consumerism and superficiality. The utility of spending time with loved ones is that you can then give of yourself to loved ones. Try it to unloved ones for a real high.
I mean, or the alternative pretty much sucks. Selfishness. Piteousness. Mediocrity.
Kinda like a red mage.
I am so thankful for the Mages and Warriors of Light that made this collaboration possible. Special thanks to the Hopeful Sega Mage for suggestion this memory-based collab in the first place, and thanks to all the writers who took time out of their busy lives this season to participate. I love you all!
#TWRMstrumental has also been a lot of fun for me being able to talk about the music I enjoy but don’t particularly address frequently on this gaming blog. I’ve collected all of it here for you, including music for the coming days up until Dec 31st, my final gift to you and yours.
Merry Christmage, one and all!
Thanks for listening,
-The Well-Red Mage
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