Thursday, June 5, 2014


I'm learning something about myself. It's something I've known in part for a while, but recent experiences have revealed it to me more fully.

I'm impossibly distracted by people. They are the most delightful form in existence, and I'm hopeless at ignoring them.

"Wait," you ask, "aren't you introverted? And haven't you said there's never a time when you don't want to be alone?" Yes, I have said those things. Despite how it may seem, what I've asserted just now is not in direct contradiction to them. It is possible to love people and want to not be in the room with them. It's an incredibly frustrating state of affairs that I often wish I could resolve, yet it's reality nonetheless.

How do I know this about myself? The last blog I wrote centered on Benedict Cumberbatch. I don't know Benedict Cumberbatch, so why do I care enough to write about him? Not only that, why have I spent the hours and hours it took for me to look him up online enough to be able to write about him, and watched movies and mini-series the likes of which I never would have seen had his captivatingly peculiar face not been in them? It's because he's interesting, and I can't ignore it.

Another piece of evidence is this: when I was in college, I spent more time thinking about my professors than anything they said to me. On occasions when called upon to write in-class essays, no matter how sure I was of the subject matter, I would always freeze over my pencil, at a loss of what to say, and often wished I had been asked to write about my professor instead. Or one of my classmates. Students are rarely the focal point of the class, and I mostly sat in the front of the room which disallowed me a clear view of my peers, but even they would have been easier to write about than, say, the significance of the Latin phrase repeated by John Milton in "Epitaphium Damonis." (Which, by the way, is heartbreakingly beautiful, and compelling, but still not as interesting to my brain as the people in my presence.)

I've mostly realized this, however, by living with my family for a very long time. A few years ago, when I graduated with my English degree, some circumstances arose which made it hard for me to move on with my life. I do believe reason was found in all of it. My uncanny ability to focus on the people I lived with was useful, and while I don't believe things should have happened differently, I do think that had my family been easier to ignore, it wouldn't have taken as long for me to make my own plans for my life. In the fullness of time, things are slowly changing, and I have had substantial time recently to live alone. As I expected it might be, it's one of the best experiences I've ever had. I have so much time to think. And it elevates my productivity levels immensely. The first time I spent a week alone, after many days of a new reality, I started to grow accustomed to the things I was able to do with my time. Then, my whole family walked back in at once, and as happy as I was to see them, a part of me was disappointed at how useless I suddenly felt. From my newly acquired perspective, I could barely get anything done. Before then, I knew I struggled to stay on task in the midst of everything going on around me, but the contrast between the old life and the new was more staggering than I expected.

So what do I make of this? Part of me wants to say, live alone the rest of your life so that you can control your human interaction. You'll be better off. That sounds appealing, but my whole self has yet to be convinced. There is also a part of me that suggests it's obvious I don't need to fight my nature, but rather find something to do with my life that demands uncompromising attention to people. My whole introverted self is not convinced of that either.

I expect I'll be wrestling with this a long time to come, perhaps even the rest of my life. Some battles aren't destined to be won this side of eternity. So as I'm still waffling, I'm gearing up to follow the advice of my latter self and spend two weeks at Camp Formosa. I suspect part of my sustained waffling is a result of the gift/curse of choice, because I do think if I could move in and work at camp full-time, I probably would do it without hesitation, despite my deep cherishing of solitude. But such an opportunity has not been presented to me, so here I am still waffling over what to pursue. For the time being, though, for a short while, I'll put my waffling on hold to spend some time with some of my favorite people on the planet. I don't get paid for anything I do at Camp Formosa, but I still consider it one of the most important jobs I've ever had. Maybe I should take that as a clue to help me find the answers to my questions.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The one with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Despite how infrequently I blog, there are some things which are so important in my life that they will inevitably appear in my writing, even if only once. Because I can't help but talk about them.

I can't help but talk about Benedict Cumberbatch.

There are many reasons why I have been so captivated by him and believe him to be a gift to acting. I will spare you the comprehensive enumeration of them at this time, chiefly because doing so would likely dissuade all who see this from ever taking me seriously again. Fortunately, there is one particular quality that sums up very many of my reasons, which I will demonstrate for you with a couple of examples.

The man can wear a suit very well,

yet I once watched him in a video the entirety of which is a fashion disaster. Shirts that are frankly too big, a funny hat...crocs? See it for yourself.

Then there's this: the first time he goes to the Oscars, he's honored and dignified with the privilege of presenting an award, and he commemorates the occasion by making a fool of himself behind U2. 

In short, he's good - really, really good - but he doesn't care. Not one bit. And he's better for it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ramblings on loneliness.

Some days I'm almost convinced I'm going to spend my whole life alone.

I expect what you, the reader, make of that statement is different that what I, the writer, intend by it.

Now, semantically and syntactically, I'm sure we're on the same page. Or close to it. You're likely thinking I'm referring to never getting married, or finding my "other half," or however you want to phrase it, and if you do, you're right. I truly do have a hard time picturing myself as a member of that kind of relationship.

Or maybe you're thinking I'm referring to not only lacking a spouse, but perhaps being a recluse and never interacting with anyone, as much as is possible in this life. And while that's not really what I had in mind, I could honestly see that happening too.

Emotionally, however, I suspect my opening sentence sounds different in your head and heart than it does in mine.

When I say "I'm almost convinced I'm going to spend my whole life alone," don't imagine my voice with any sadness. I don't say it with a sigh. No wistfulness casts a shadow on my demeanor. Instead I say it as analytically as people who know me well could imagine I might, with a certain measure of wonder coloring my tone of voice.

As I mentioned before, I have a hard time picturing myself attached to anyone. I've always struggled to connect with my fellow humans on even the most rudimentary levels, so that's an obstacle. If I can't even make friends, how am I supposed to be a wife? But my social difficulties don't end there. If my only hindrance was struggle through unnatural territory, I'd rate my chances of relational success a lot higher. There are few challenges determination cannot subdue. The greater obstacle is my penchant for wandering in the other direction when there's a relationship in my path (and I use the term 'relationship' here in its purest sense, to mean an interaction with a person no matter how shallow or intimate). Actually, 'wandering' isn't the right word. At least not all the time. That implies a certain whimsy, or absent-mindedness, like something catches my attention and by the time I look up, I've unknowingly left my friend behind. That does happen. But what also happens more often than I'd like to admit is something much more intentional. 'Fleeing' is a better word in those instances. I have an unending desire to be alone, and at times it overcomes me to the point that I fervently run away. I've never seen or heard someone offer relationship advice and include in the list, "Regularly run away from your significant other. Distance yourself as much as you can, because that's the best way to get to know someone, and cultivate intimacy and trust." I think I'd quit seeing my counselor if they told me that.

Thus, on a purely intellectual level, staying single seems a likely outcome. And as I've already admitted to an unending desire for solitude and unattachment, I'm emotionally ready to accept that outcome as well. In fact, to be transparent, imagining that kind of life actually makes me a little excited at this period of my existence. Not only have I never not lived with people, I've spent years giving of myself unceasingly to my family, and I'm uber ready for a change of pace. Right about now, an unattached, single, solitary life sounds like bliss, the kind of which I'm almost unable to accept would be possible.

Returning to my original statement, if you want to imagine any emotion in my voice at all, imagine that - glee.

Which is where originates the wonder in my voice. Who becomes gleeful at the thought of a lonely life? Me, is the answer to that question. I'm sure there are others, but I certainly don't know any of them. If you happen to be reading this and can say the same for how you feel, please introduce yourself. Or if you don't fit the criterion, but know someone who does, please introduce us. As oxymoronic as it sounds, I sincerely would like to know someone who revels in disconnection. It's one of the rarest qualities I've ever encountered, and combined with the long list of my other quirks, makes me marvel as how imaginative God is when he creates.

Having spent all this time illustrating one point to you, I'm now going to make a declaration that seems to negate it. I love people. As deeply as I can fathom, I love people. What's unfortunate is everything I've said previously isn't negated by this truth, and most days I struggle to reconcile my love with that unending desire to be alone. I haven't figured out a way to do both at the same time, and if there did exist a way, I hope my better judgment would keep me from cheating on myself and others in such a fashion.

As easily as I can picture myself being alone, being married doesn't sound half bad either, and despite everything I've said so far, if that is a part of my future, I will welcome it whole-heartedly. But it's not a thing I sit around wishing for. I honestly only talk about it because everyone else does, and one does start to wonder why one's own inclinations seem to be different from the majority. If left to my own devices, I think the topic would rarely be explored. I have no vendetta against married people or boyfriends and girlfriends, but I do often wonder why people can't just be friends without expectation or suspicion of anything otherwise. Heterosexual relationships have always been cloaked in a suspicion of romance, which I think has always added an element of awkwardness to my interactions with boys despite me finding it unendingly easier to get along with them, simply because I'm leery of "OMG, do you like him?" conversations. But in our increasingly homosexually aware culture, even people of the same sex being extra chummy with one another is liable to make people watching from the outside think they're a "thing." I'm a huge supporter of understanding, support and acceptance, but when it's culturally acceptable for everyone you talk to to be your potential partner, it does make things messier for the relationship-phobic. Admittedly, though, we girls do have it easier because we've always been more chummy overall. I don't have too much to complain about. I do feel for all my touchy-feely brothers out there, though.

It's been a while since I've written a pointless blog, so I suppose it's forgivable that this is turning into such. I didn't have a thesis in mind when I started, and while I thought I might find one while writing like I usually do, it didn't happen. Let it be sufficient to say, this is just what's been on my mind. And if you want to take anything away from this, know that this is how I feel about the subject. I'm not looking for a husband. Or a boyfriend. And please don't be sad for me, because I'm really okay with that. I'm not depressed, or self-doubting thinking I'm not good enough. I know I'm just as good as anyone else could ever be, and it's for that reason I don't need anyone to validate me. I'm fine being me and only me. And if that ever changes, I'm not going to keep it a secret. You will definitely know because that is going to be some of the hugest news I've ever had to share.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What's for dinner?

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more that clothing?" -Matthew 6:25 NRSV

I understand worry. Everyone understands worry, don't they? We're out-of-control people, and that's necessarily unsettling. We have no sway over anything, yet we desperately wish we did. The best we can make of that is worry. It's natural. Like breathing.

I've spent a lot of time worrying about my place in the world, whether my life will amount to anything. Worrying if I'll perform well enough, what people will think of me when I fall on my face. Worrying if my family will self-destruct, leaving literally everything broken. When I read that passage in Matthew, those are the things I think of. "Don't worry if you'll ever amount to anything, Emily. Don't worry if your life appears to be spiraling into a pit. I'm taking care of everything," says the Lord. But lately, I'm reading that passage more literally.

A couple weeks ago, I made radical changes to my diet after a couple of very informative medical consultations. I decided to stop eating several things and also told myself I needed to eat more consistently. The things I eliminated are at the core of a modern American diet, so all of the things that are convenient, that my diet has rested upon my whole life, are no longer available to me. Thus the subject of food has become paramount to my brain. That's the first trouble.

But it's not much unlike trouble I've had before. In our sparsest times, I would allow myself to eat once in a day in order to preserve food for later, because I wasn't sure where else I would get anything to eat. I know what it's like to not be rolling in food. So that in itself does not bring a fresh perspective to Matthew 6.

My second trouble does, however. All the time in my past when I've intentionally plowed on without food, I was rarely distractedly hungry. Quite often I wasn't hungry at all, but when I was, it was easy to ignore. Thus food, although I lacked it, did not keep me preoccupied. But these changes in my diet have rendered me ravenous. I don't know why, but I have never been so hungry before. Even when I eat, a lot, it's only a short while before I feel like eating again. I had fashioned my lifestyle, my self, abound being as close to indifferent to food as I could be. If I wasn't hungry, I didn't eat. If I was a little hungry but it wasn't convenient to eat, I forgot about it with very little trouble. Physical urges did not rule my days, my brain did. But lately, I can't forget about being hungry. I'm frankly tired of eating.

Which brings me to my last trouble. I was told I'm in the prime position to develop diabetes. One of the greatest enemies of a glucose level is fasting. Self-denial has always been one of my greatest virtues, and, I'm finding now, weaknesses. No matter how hungry I am, I could still press on and not bother myself with food whenever I don't want to deal with it. But I really don't need to do that. Ugh.

For the first time in my life I have genuinely worried about food., what I'm going to eat and drink, and when. This is not a #firstworldproblem. Even at my poorest, it still wasn't much of a problem. There's so much food in this country that sooner or later I've always come across something to put in my mouth to keep me alive. I would eat it posthaste, then move on.

But imagine if we didn't live with so much food that it rots in dumpsters. I think there would be a lot less worrying about where one has to be when, who's mad at them, who they're mad at, and how well they're going to do on their chemistry test.

Although my recent scrambling for food has not been motivated by poverty, it has helped me more thoroughly realize how cushy my culture is. We really miss out on so much.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"The Misadventures of Emily Lynn: Locked Out" by Emily Lynn

This is a story about a girl who usually has her head on straight, but watched it turn sideways this afternoon.

I set out to make a few stops today as the sun was still high in the sky, but had already begun its descent. Less than a mile from my house, I realized my phone was still charging in my bedroom. “It’ll be fine,” I thought. “I won’t be gone long enough to miss it.” Onward I drove. First stop: done. I reduced $45 of product down to $0.99 at CVS in a matter of minutes. Second stop: over just as quickly. Two books purchased in my favorite thrift store for a total of $0.49. Then the third stop. Two cans of pineapple and a pint of coconut milk ice cream purchased at Publix. Everything was going swimmingly.

I walked back to my car, in one of the grandest moods, and saw my keys sitting in the seat on the other side of the locked driver side door. I laughed, and exclaimed “Noooo!” through my giggles. I took a moment to process wonder and appreciation at the reality that my first reaction to trouble was amusement. I then smilingly shook my head at the fact that the first time I lock my keys in the car is also one of the rare days I don’t have a cell phone. Irony rules my life. Coming out of my head, I then began trying to address the problem in front of me. I forcefully yanked every door handle, hoping one might miraculously pop open. I pressed on the windows, hoping one of them might be loose and move down even a fraction of an inch. I had been driving with the windows down, so I longingly thought, “Why didn’t I leave at least one of them cracked? Just this once?” At a loss, I even tried pressuring the lock with a coin. I simultaneously hoped it would and wouldn’t work. If it worked, I would be ever so grateful to have my keys back in my hand and avoid further frustration. If it worked, then any prowling miscreant could quietly open my doors. I felt both disappointment and relief when it failed. I then began formulating a plan of action.

As I considered what to do, the owner of the vehicle on my driver side came walking back to his car. Before he pulled off, he noticed my look of helplessness.

“Did you lock your keys in your car?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Do you happen to have a wire hanger handy?”

“No, I don’t.”

“If you have a wire hanger, I can get into your car.”

“Yeah? Well, I wish I had one.”

“The store down there at the end probably has one.” He pointed to the thrift store I had just visited.

“Yeah, they probably do.” Why didn’t I think of that?

I retrieved a hanger and passed it to my would-be rescuer. He set to work bending it and carefully squeezing it through the door seal.

In his car, poking his upper body out of the open passenger window, was his grandson, a boy who looked to be about four years old. He was a chatty young man, and we had a congenial conversation as grandpa worked hard to rescue me. We talked about hair cuts, his stuffed dogs, Spiderman, and cars. If only it was that easy to talk to everyone. “Pawpaw,” as my new young friend called him, worked doggedly for at least 15 minutes, but was meeting no success. I thanked him for trying, and he lent me his phone to call my parents, who were an hour away. There was no answer, so I left them a message, trying to work out what I was going to do while I talked. I spotted a McDonald’s across the street, and figured that would be a good place to wait. I told them I’d go over there and try to find another phone to call them again.

“Pawpaw, are we gonna take her home?”

“No, but maybe we can take her to McDonald’s. Would you like a ride across the street?”

He delivered me safely, and I thanked him again. I didn’t ask him his name, but he told me he was a retired police officer, and my simmering cynicism was quelled just a little more by finding that, even in retirement, someone had taken the pledge to serve seriously.

The manager inside let me borrow their phone, and this time my dad answered. He said they were heading my way, so, since I couldn’t eat anything they serve, I bought a sweet tea, and turned my attention to my melting coconut milk ice cream. It wasn’t going to be meeting a freezer anytime soon, so I was just going to have to eat it. I settled into a booth, and dug into my pint of vanilla bean with a straw. I may have imagined it, but there was a gentleman across the room that kept looking at me with a puzzled expression at my choice of utensil. The whole pint took me about a half hour to eat, and by the time I was done, I indubitably had surpassed my sugar limit for the day. The rest of my time there, I amused myself by drafting this story on the table with my fingers. I’m not in the habit of carrying a purse, but as a writer, I really need to figure out some way to always have writing instruments handy. Thankfully, though, my imagination has not died, and with only the aid of forming the letters in front of my face, even without a lasting mark, the words appear clearly to my mind and I’m able to organize my thoughts. Things it did not take imagination to clearly see were gazes other patrons gave me, obviously wondering if I believed my fingers were genuinely making marks on the table. Not all who look insane are.

My parents finally arrived, my dad’s spare key helped me retrieve my own, and although my short outing turned into the opposite, my story ended well.

And for this I am grateful, for as much as I love telling stories, I grow tired of using personal pronouns, and am determined that the next story I tell will about someone else. Even if it is about me. I don’t know how David Sedaris does it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Never be the same again.

I'm setting the record straight. Sherlock is one of the best shows to have graced modern television. Thus spake Emily.

At the end of season 3, Sherlock tells John Watson of a story his brother used to tell him about a mysterious East Wind, "a terrifying force that lays waste to all in its path."

Although less destructive - perhaps - I think an east wind came to visit my house today. Or visited my life, rather.

I am currently home alone. Although a rare occurrence, I have had this experience before. Ever an introvert, it's always been a good thing. My energies get recharged, my mind and will have a chance to refocus. But this time it's different.

When I was a very young child, both of my parents worked full time, so my days were spent away from them, at my grandparents' house, with my brother. Then my family moved to a new town, in a new state. Frequently, my parents would take my brother and I back to our grandparents' house and leave us there for some quality family time, while they took the opportunity to have some time to themselves. As soon as my other brother was born, he joined the occasional routine of extended stays away from our parents, and what used to be a twosome, became a threesome most of the time. But the twosome never disappeared. The age gap between me and the youngest spans a full ten years, so there have always been situations when we necessarily parted company. Friends would invite me over for parties where it wasn't really appropriate for baby brother to tag along. I would decide to go on concert trips that wouldn't have me home until 2 AM, far too late for a little boy. But at only 21 months apart, the other brother and I rarely had reason to not be together. We experienced life's milestones at roughly the same time. We had all the same friends. Our favorite band when we were kids was the same, as was true for most of our other interests.

Not much changed as we grew. Our borders did expand, yes. We each met people the other didn't know, our tastes started branching out in directions the other wasn't travelling. But we never became strangers, and started speculating what would happen when we moved on from the lives of our parents. One thing seemed obvious: we both would need at least one roommate, so who better to share expenses and space with than someone you've been amiably, even joyfully, living with for 20 years. So for the past several years, as we each approached the end of our collegiate journeys, we've talked about one day when we would branch out to face the world alone, young, determined humans, finding their own paths in the world, yet together.

But life doesn't always work out how you expect it will.

Today, brother dear drove west, and intends to stay there for a while. And I'm looking at living alone soon becoming an everyday reality. I am making plans that will encompass seeing him in just over a week. And he says he plans to be back here for a bit in a few weeks. But today marked our first steps in divergent directions.

I'm excited about what lays in the future for each of us, but I can't help but pause over the end of one of the only consistent realities I've ever known.

I'm starting to realize how much comfort I have built and clung to around myself. I've embraced change in some areas, but in more I've stayed staunchly the same. All day long, in this house with no one but the cat, I've found myself craving familiar things, yet somehow not able to let myself be so self-indulgent. I wanted to listen to the same song over and over, but after a couple times I compulsively turned it off, even while yearning for it continue. I'm the queen of musical repeats, so why can I not let it play now? I decided it was time to make dinner, and out of all the familiar, convenient options in front of me, I chose to make something I've never made before, all the while heartbroken at the unfamiliarity of the contents in the pot I was stirring. It was delicious, but foreign, therefore not quite as delicious as it could have been. I turned on Netflix, and as much as my heart was screaming at me to turn on something I know, all my fingers were able to click was something new that I had never seen.

If I may digress for a minute, I'd like to take it back to the subject of my first paragraph. I really want to tell you I watched the first season of Sherlock when it premiered, and have been a tried and true fan since, but to do so would be a lie. With the approach of season 3, I finally decided to watch the first two so I could catch the current one as it played on TV, and not only did I become hooked on the show, I became enthralled by it's two central players, Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch. That man is a gift to acting. He's one of the few people I've ever googled extensively, and I've watched hours and hours of him in recent weeks. I'm convinced that if ever given the opportunity, we'd be good friends. He spent a year of his life teaching English before he went down the path of acting, and once sang "Pure Imagination" in an interview, so how could we not get along? Getting back to the narrative in progress, when I decided I wanted to watch something, not only was I yearning for something familiar, I specifically wanted to see Benedict Cumberbatch, to hear his rich, captivating voice. Despite not knowing him personally, his presence, albeit only in film, has become a familiar friend. But I couldn't let myself wander anywhere near him today.

I want familiarity so badly. But one of the most central pillars of my life has been destabilized, so even familiar things feel wrong at this time. Rather than spoil their familiarity, I'm avoiding them. To quote what I believe is Herman Melville's greatest work, Ah humanity!

Life will continue. A new reality will form itself around me. Familiarity will return. Sometime. After all, everything familiar was once unfamiliar. But for right now, everything is still unfamiliar. And in this discomfort is where I'm going to sit for a while.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 25th, 2013

I'm listening to the slowing sounds of my quieting house, thinking of all the things that happened in this room today, and I realize...I had a really great Christmas.


From the age of seven, Christmas for me predominately became about travel. We lived 6 hours from my closest grandparents, even further from the others, so to keep with tradition and spend our holidays with the family, we had to drive. And to be able to spend all day with everyone, we couldn't travel on the day of, it had to be earlier. Christmas at home became a foreign idea.

When it wasn't predominately about travel, and we happened to be home on that day "children call their favorite time of year," that meant we didn't have enough money to make the trip. If we didn't have enough money for the trip, that meant we barely had enough money to eat. Our "feast" was small. Presents were few, if there were any to be found, and often times decorations were even hard to come by. As you may imagine, Christmas atmosphere was always lacking in these times.

Growing up with this as the reality, I felt uncomfortable, not because I cared so much about the traditional "Christmas experience" (although I would be lying if I claimed it wasn't a challenge), but because it created a chasm between me and my peers. Returning to school after Christmas break, everyone wanted to talk about their experiences, and all the gifts they received from loved ones. These conversations weren't so tough at first. The only difference in what I had to share was the conspicuous lack of any time at home, and the feelings of anxiously lying in my own bed awaiting the excitement of the coming morning, and waking up in my own bed ready to embrace all the day had to give. I felt similar feelings, but in a springy hide-a-bed at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Still exciting. But different.

Then came the first year my parents didn't buy me anything. The first day back at school went something like this:

"Hey, Emily! Did you have a good Christmas?"

"Yeah, I did. How about you?"

"Yeah, mine was great. I got...*excited rambling for at least a minute, perhaps longer if their haul was particularly spectacular*. What about you?"

"...*awkward silence*...Well, my parents didn't really buy me anything this year."


"I didn't get any presents from my parents."



Conversation over. And if the subject wasn't graciously changed, I would be treated to stares. As someone who tried hard to blend into the background, this was hardly better than even the most awkward of conversations. I wasn't embarrassed. I harbored no ill feelings toward my parents. I was just uncomfortable with people noticing me. Just knowing they were thinking of me was almost more than I could handle. (And this, friends, is why God let me be home schooled from the age of 12. After I got to live outside of that anxiety for a good long while, I got over it. Immersion therapy works in certain circumstances; this wasn't one of them.)

Along with financial constraints, as my siblings and I got older, my parents felt less pressure to create the "Christmas experience" for us, so there was yet another reason to not force the buying of presents. And in the middle of our constant moving, most of our Christmassy possessions got broken or misplaced, or had no room to be displayed between all the moving boxes. (For a time, we always moved in the winter. Always.) Replacing them was slow to happen, and since we were barely home anyway, it was easy to let Christmassy traditions slide without much comment, because it seemed like too much effort to get an empty house ready for Christmas.

Starting in high school, Christmas for me slowly started becoming more about apathy.

All the while, Christmas in the surrounding culture was becoming bigger, and bigger, and bigger. (Irony rules my life. I'm going to write a book about it someday.)

Thanks to commercialism, the Christmas season snuck up when I wasn't looking this year. All around me were suddenly people putting up trees and lights, and filling up their social calenders, and I wasn't feeling any of it. Filled with the weight of my experience and my reluctance to jump on the bandwagon this year, I started bracing myself for new levels of apathy, and the personal mourning I knew would come after that apathy.

But what I was blind to at the time was that through all the years of stripping me of the things of Christmas, God was working to renew my heart and baptize my mind, and help me to truly cherish Christmas in a way I couldn't have otherwise.

Miraculously, this year we got to stay home, and not because we couldn't afford to see our family. We will see our family, this coming weekend. Christmas is rather inconveniently in the middle of the week, and the two of our number that have "real jobs" couldn't get off work all those extra week days around it. As neither depression nor rush were plaguing our days leading up to Christmas, I started to feel the Christmas Spirit at the beginning of the week. I was pleasantly surprised.

Then I looked around me and saw no tree. No lights. It was too hot for snow. And I remembered it had been so long since I got a present that I had no reason to expect one. And really, when I thought about it, I didn't even want one.

Then I realized all those things didn't change my mood at all.

And then I got really excited.

When you catch the Christmas Spirit it's infectious, and will only grow until its course has been run.

And so today, at home with my parents and little brothers, fed by music and sumptuous food, was a marvelous day.

But it looked almost nothing like Christmases of my earliest memories.

At this point, I am so far removed from North America's traditional "Christmas experience" that I don't even know what that means anymore, or how most people celebrate Christmas. What I do know is it's still my favorite holiday, but for completely different reasons. And it feels more honest than ever.

I don't want to change a thing.

"Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought"