By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — The spirituality of Christmas is what means most to me. No matter how hot the hype and siren lure of commercialism, it’s really about love, hope, faith and the joy and promise of new beginnings.
For me, and, I’d say, for my loved ones, the path to those joyful conclusions has had a lot to do with the creative journey.
I’ve known times both lean and lush and I’ve been fortunate to get some pretty opulent gifts over the years, including things I really, really wanted.
I can remember the sensation of yearning and that it was sometimes fulfilled, but I’m hazier on just what those highly coveted gifts were.
What I remember most vividly are the creative components of Christmas.
Music fills my Christmas memory bank. There were the songs I sang with my family on car trips to visit my grandparents or snowy treks to our riverfront acreage in northern Michigan, where we often sang while choosing, cutting and dragging back a scraggy white pine in the dense forest.
Then there were the more elaborate arrangements in school bands and choirs. I still remember first time I heard “O Holy Night,” and the milagro tingles it sent up and down my spine, along with the day our maturing high school choir finally had the skills to get those powerful chords and crescendos right.
But equally impressive were the first times I heard my son — and then my grandson — warble their childhood renditions of “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”
Not a dry eye in the house.
My sense memory banks are filed with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas kitchens. More singing. The feel of gooey dough stiffened by just enough flower to prepare it for our holiday cookie cutters. The smells of dates and cinnamon and peppermint and gingerbread. The sights of bright neon sprinkles, raisin eyes on snowmen and reindeer confections.
Decking the halls has always been a sure route to Christmas sprit and major memories. Ornaments seemed more precious and rare in the old school days. We cherished the heirlooms and debated just where to and how to position the lighted angel, our personal fave. But making decorations was even more rewarding: strings of popcorn, clove-studded oranges and the loops of colored paper that we hung on the tree, with an extra chain of 25 loops to hang by our bed and tear off each day until the magic date arrived.
There were the Christmas literary traditions: Santa tales told and read by dads and granddads, with more exotic permutations in Charlie Brown TV specials and holiday movies.
The real Christmas story somehow always came through, in some fusion of song, literature and hall-decking, in celebrations in church, home, schools and shopping centers.
The crèches always offered a creative touch, too. At the top of my memory smorgasbord are the annual arrangements of a little carved stone nativity set I shared with grandson Alexander the Great during his Las Cruces years, ages 3 to 10.
I told him the story of the little family and their journey to Bethlehem that first toddler year and a few years later, he was telling it to me. Some years, a few latter-day superheros and action figures joined the gathering and a sheep or horse sometimes ended up perching on the church and manger roofs with the angels, but I was surprised by how quickly he grasped the essence of what the holiday is all about.
Creativity and spirituality are a potent mixture.
It’s a smooth transcendent step to the most powerful fusion of all: love, hope, faith and miracles.
Have a creative holiday season with those you love.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450