Although the Red Room staff is religiously and philosophically diverse, it turns out we all celebrate Christmas. Whether enjoying Christmas as an atheist California-Jewish family tradition, a time to celebrate excessive Victorian decorating, or as an opportunity to volunteer and reignite our good will for humanity, we've been enjoying the season here in San Francisco. Last week, we asked Red Roomers to write on the topic of "My Favorite Christmas."
The idea of "favorite" implies happy memories, but some of the most touching posts had to do with tragedies occurring around Christmastime. For example, in first Red Room blog post, Michelle L. Curtis writes movingly about a recent Christmas that she found all the more meaningful because she and her family had known it would be the last one spent with her father. Red Room author Aberjhani recounts how Christmas traditions and a hopeful sign of life helped him and his family grieve after the devastating murder of his niece and her young son in November 2002.
Many bloggers couldn't pin down a particular Christmas to cite as their favorite, choosing instead to describe those elements that, over time, mean "Christmas" to them. For example, for Emilie Bush, Christmas will always mean new-found fertility even amid the dusty west Texas landscape of her uncle's ranch—read "The Shot Gun, Rattlesnake, Tee-Shirty Texas Christmas Extravaganza with a Side of Wha?". For Carol Sharp, the ebb and flow of family and especially children have made Christmas mean more during the good times—read "Christmas Memories." The era in which childhood Christmases takes place—in this case, the fabulous 1970s—is an important ingredient for Karen Harrington in "Looking Back on Christmas Past."
Here are two blog post that stood out this week:
In "Christmas in the Heartland," Douglas R. Keister blends sweetness, humor, and convincing detail to create the blog version of a convincing Norman Rockwell-esque portrait of an American Christmas in the 1950s.
Many bloggers have been poor and have linked their Christmas memories around that experience. In "An Early Christmas Eve," first-time blogger Dawn Meier writes that her children never knew they were growing up poor, and how the introduction of the first home video game brought an early Christmas in the 1970s.
These bloggers will receive a copy of one of these two books:
In Love, Santa: A Different Kind of Christmas Story, Sharon Glassman shares what happens when a woman who doesn't even celebrate Christmas plays Santa for three underprivileged children. And in Christmas Letters from Hell: All the News We Hate from the People We Love, Michael Lent parodies holiday letters with accounts that blend the "holiday cheer, humor, and twisted truth in our well-intended attempts to stay in touch gone horribly wrong."
Here are some other posts you shouldn't miss:
- For another first-time Red Room blogger, Christmas is also a reminder of growing up poor. In "All Tomorrow's Parties," James Elliott chooses to remember one year's terrible experience in a way that helps him appreciate how great his life is now. Read "All Tomorrow's Parties."
- Tim Wise takes a break from his tireless work on anti-racism to write about his family and Christmas traditions in "On Santa and Other Harmless Fibs: Childhood, Aging, and the Maintenance of Hope."
- In 1999, Charles Ray was working in Vietnam, and in "A Christmas I Will Never Forget," shares what it was like to celebrate with his family in a Communist Southeast Asian country that nevertheless goes all out at Christmas.
As always, there are many treasures worth your time this week. I hope you'll review all the My Favorite Christmas blog entries, choose your favorite, and leave a comment telling the blogger why his or her post meant so much to you. Thanks for blogging!
–Huntington W. Sharp, Editor, Red Room