On this special evening around the world, I think we need to be grateful for art. All of the arts: music, painting, movies, books, poetry, dance, mosaic, pottery, quilting, and whatever else may chime your bells.
Christmas is, after all, the holiday of the arts. It is the commercial culmination of several imaginary notions, religious and secular, all slathered together into one giant festival pie. We celebrate by setting Christmas gifts―creatively wrapped in ribbons and bows and foils―beneath a tree brandishing our own personal touches, with ornaments and lights and things our kids made in grade school. We bake cookies and cakes and pies. We make traditional turkeys and create new traditions with Christmas chili and lasagna. Each family preserves its rituals and adds to them with new ones.
In our family, we go to the movies on Christmas day, our pagan homage to one of the most explosively creative arts of our time. Avatar is sure to open a new world to millions—and to make millions for those who created it, but since we already saw it, we’ll be supporting some other filmmaker’s future in the arts. Movies make us happy (or sad) or just help pass the time, and the shared holiday film catalogue becomes something that brings us closer together. (You should know that we are not the only ones in the theatre―we have seen the audiences grow over the years, as more people discover the joy of escape on Christmas.)
For those you don’t share the holidays with, you have no doubt been papering the world and clogging the internet with cards, expressing the sentiments of humble writers and artists who spent many hours designing your thoughts. Some recipients will smile and others will remember you for a brief moment, and you have Art to thank for it.
So yes, let’s be grateful for the arts. We have been singing carols and listening to Christmas CDS and watching specials and every Christmas movie ever made for weeks now, and it all makes the big, very bad, bad world go away, for more than a few minutes and more than a few days. This year, we need a LOT of Christmas, because truthfully, everything else sucked!
We are all so painfully aware of the collapse this past of everything we believed could never fail us, and still we are all here to celebrate. There is something so reassuring in learning that after all else does fail, each year, no matter what or where, Christmas still happens.
And my point is that we make Christmas happen by summoning all of our collective creative spirit. It is a global notion, however misguided, of peace and prosperity and goodness for all, if only for a night and a day, a single vision of hope that allows all of us to get through the rest of the year, whatever it brings.
And so, if you know anyone in the arts, give them special thanks on Christmas. Support them, admire them, and tell them what you want from Santa. And stir that little fire in your own creative soul. Kiss your own Christmas angel when you set the table you so lovingly labored over, or when you give that special brilliant gift that nobody else could find or make. We are all creators, and we need to celebrate that spirit inside of us that makes every new day full of the hope of something better.
I hope you find the art in your life to save you every day. This is my Christmas wish for you!
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