Sunday, December 21, 2008

I love Christmas. And you probably do as well. I don't imagine I'm alone in my affinity for this time of year.

I'm a nostalgic guy and I spend more than enough time in my head. Thinking about things. Remembering things. People. Sometimes it's the road not taken. Sometimes it's just walking down a road and revisiting old places and people.

What is it about Christmas that finds me more and more inside my head?

We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas a few weeks ago. And I remembered being a kid watching it and feeling sad that I didn't live in a place where there was snow on the ground. Growing up in Florida, we didn't have seasons. There was no fall. And there was no winter. But from my Family Room, ALL Christmases, except for ours, were celebrated in snow. Even McDonald's commercials celebrated winter wonderland scenes as requisite for Christmas.

Ours was warm. Muggy. Humid. Dense.

Which made me think I was missing out. I'm not saying that Charlie Brown and McDonald's are the reason I eventually moved to the northwest, but surely in the recesses of my mind, I unwittingly succumbed to the romanticized version of Christmas I'd been fed by my television.

And yet, snow and icicles, snowmen and roaring fires have as much to do with Christmas, the true reason for Christmas, as Santa Claus and his goofy little reindeer.

Sorry if that pops a balloon.

I was telling some friends the other day that I think I enjoy thinking about going to Disney World almost as much as I enjoy going to Disney World. The times we spend in our house planning a trip, talking about where we want to stay, looking up pictures of different places on line, reading the menus, all of that is a lot of fun. Almost as much as actually being there. Maybe even more so. Because in the planning, there are no tour groups, there is no rain, there is no such thing as favorite ride being rehabbed, your resort's counter service restaurant being reconstructed. Nothing smells bad. In your head, it's ideal. Romantic.

The snow covered Christmas scene in my head is the same way. It's pretty to look at. It evokes images of a warm fire with bulging stockings hanging on the mantle.

That's the romantic vision. The reality is far different. We've been in a snow-covered cold snap now for a week. It's pretty to look at but stressful to contend with. The roads are covered with snow and ice. Which means my car has remained parked and I've been driving Mrs. Z's 4wd SUV. And while I've been able to get where I need to be, my assistant has made only sporadic appearances in the office. Worse still, Mrs. Z and the little Zs have been unable to get out of the house. So I've had to do the shopping. Run the errands. Stand in line at the post office. And while Mrs. Z and the girls have gone with our neighbors to play in the snow in the park, Mrs. Z hasn't been able to attend any of the things she normally does during a week.

ZZUBY and I have been out playing in the snow, sledding off our front hill, down the long sidewalk to the park. Throwing snow balls at de Schpup! And it's all fun. I love that part. But the anxiety about whether a mediation will go forward, whether witness meetings will take place, whether we'll lose power, is lurking somewhere below the surface. As such anxieties often do with me.

So I reckon snow and the winter wonderland really isn't very Christmassy after all.

I'm sad by how far removed from Christmas this time of year has become. ZZUBY and I were in Lowe's last week and all the Christmas stuff was already down. Put up. I reckon when you start selling the stuff in September, by December 15, it's enough already. In other words, Christmas isn't about the celebration of Jesus' birth: it's just a marketing season.

The miracle of Christmas, that God sent His son to be born of a virgin, to be birthed among animals, to live and to die as the sacrifice for our sins. How did this get so mixed up with trees and presents, candy and lights, ornaments and fireplaces and yes, snow? When the story is beautiful and pure, simple and sacred, why did we layer on top of it the things of this earth which couldn't have anything less to do with Jesus?

I'm not anti-tree and I'm not anti-snow, but in the ways we celebrate Christmas, we've got to hearken back to our Savior. His humble birth. His ultimate death for our sins.

The world is spinning faster and faster anymore. There are hundreds of things competing for our attention. But maybe in this time of year, for a few days, we can resist those temptations. Maybe we can locate the sheer wonder and excitement of the shepherds, who upon hearing the good news, "came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger." (Luke 2:16 NASB).

Like us, the shepherds were in a hurry, too. Only they ran to Jesus. And there they found salvation.

Merry Christmas!


  1. Very nicely said, Zzub. Thank you.
    I will think of you this week as I take time each day to include Jesus in my daily routine for my Advent devotions.

  2. Thanks Zzub for that "Linus Moment," truly we must remember the greatest gift ever given.

  3. Merry Christmas!

    Grateful is a state we have to remind ourselves to be in. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. ZZUB, very very nice. God bless.

  5. Merry Christmas to you and yours, my friend. Nice post. And though I do agree about the reason for the season, I still like my snow. Maybe not QUITE as much as we got this weekend though....

    And don't even tell me that your Caddy is rear wheel drive.

  6. Thanks for the reminder to keep our perspective at this time of the year. While I can appreciate your fondness for the white stuff, after spending my entire life in snowy parts of the country, I think I'd like to try some warm and humid for a change. Snow really puts a crimp in my golfing.

  7. Well written my frozen friend. I'm stuck with looking at pictures of snow, but after spending a winter in northern Minnesota, I am not complaining. Great reminder of the true reasons we have to celebrate. God bless!

  8. Great Biscuit! I'm jonesing for some good bisthits. Mrs. Z made a mean pot of stew last night and I ran out to the store to pick up the stew stuff and picked up a can o' bisthits. And they were pretty lousy. But cheap. NOOutback Steakhouse.

    I'm pretty sure I'd be enjoying this snow more if I didn't have work to do. ZZUBY is loving it. Baby Z likes it too, but she's fastidious and when she gets snow on her boots she says, "uh oh."

    To my Jewish friends, I say Happy Hannukkah.

    And to everyone else I say, Merry Christmas.


  9. Merry Christmas, Zzub Family! I think it's so easy to get caught up in the preparations for the feast and the presents and all of that, that you forget to prepare your heart to receive the best gift you could ever receive! Thanks for a great reminder of the true meaning of the season.

    Happy Birthday, Jesus!

  10. Merry Christmas to the Zzub family and all the Zzub fans! Peace on Earth!

  11. OK, I hate this no edit thingy. But I want to object. We DO have seasons in Florida!

    It's green and brown in summer, and brown and green in winter. So there!!! Seasons!

  12. JOY to the world, the Lord has come....

    What an appropriate picture for the start of this entry. I have reminded
    myself of the true meaning of JOY a lot this holiday season. Jesus 1st, Others 2nd and Yourself 3rd. There is no better way. Sometimes during this season my word JOY is mis-spelled as OJY or OYJ and even OOOOJ......these words bring me craziness, stress and exhaustion. .Jesus is the greatest GIFT we have ever received. The love, peace, kindness, and hope He brought with Him and how that shines through his children is one precious gift. Thanks for the reminder of how to properly spell JOY. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends and that you have joy this season!

    Now, Zzub, I got you a gift. It's one night at the Poly, a University of Florida T-shirt, a balled up sock, and a gift certificate to Olive Garden.
    Merry Christmas!

  13. Well said Zzub!

    Merry Christmas!

  14. Can I just say that post was WAY off topic?!

    I thought this was supposed to be a trip report! About Disney! Without all those pesky side stories.

    Sorry. Forgot where I was for a minute there.

    Like Cousin Eddie.

    All joking aside, that post is just another reason I'm really glad you've got this place now, ZZUB. It was a beautifully written and very timely message. And Frick's right. The picture was perfect. Picture perfect, even. During this busiest of seasons, it's so easy to allow our joy to be buried underneath the layers of stuff that seem to go hand in hand with the Christmas season these days. The buying of the presents, the endless grocery store runs, the Christmas parties, I could go on and on. The older I get, the more I feel it. Not that I'm old. You're old. I'm just saying.

    So thanks for another timely little reminder that none of the other stuff matters. It's all about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And good tidings of GREAT JOY. Which shall be to all people.

    Sorry you're dealing with snow overload up there (although your little post did nothing to ease my jealousy over the white stuff) but I hope you and your sweet, sweet family have the most blessed Christmas to date, ZZUB.

    If that is your REAL name.

    And Merry Christmas to all you other goofballs too. I pray you have a Christmas that's filled with nothing but peace and joy.

    And Super Duper Reindeer Poopers.

    Merry Christmas everybody!


    PS. Frick, I'm standing by the mailbox waiting on my ham. I like mine with extra juice. Just so you know.

    PSS. I got ZZUB another toupe for Christmas. Shhh. Don't tell him.

  15. Hey my LaLa!!! I sent your ham out 2.5 weeks should be there any minute! If the water has little grease balls in it, just heat it up again for a little while and they'll disappear. Be sure you get a can o'bisthists, whatever those are, so you can sop up the juice.
    Merry Christmas sweet friend!

  16. Merry Christmas Zzub! Well written, as usual, and very very accurate.

    For the past two years we've driven to the World, and last year, about 10 minutes before we saw our first purple roadsign, I said to my wife:

    "Right now. Right now is the best part of the trip. The excitement is palpable, and in our minds, the trip is perfect. Great weather, no lines, magic everywhere, happy and manageable crowds. Perfect."

    The trick is reconciling the perfect with the reality. As I grow older I become more and more able to do this. As a young child the reality is the perfect - you don't know enough to know the difference. As you grow older the reality intrudes, and if you're lucky, patient, and eventually wise, becomes perfect.

    Too deep? Maybe. Just like the snow drifting down in the midwest this December 23rd, in large, slow, "Charlie Brown Christmas" sized flakes!

    Merry Christmas!

  17. Well stated, Scott. I was ruminating on a similar thought earlier today. When we were kids, my parents drove us up to Vermont one Christmas. My dad ended up going off the road and we were stuck in the snow. I helped him try to dig us out but it was no use. Eventually some guys came by and pulled us out.

    I have no memory of being scared or thinking we were in danger. But if something like that happened now with my wife and girls, I'd be worried. I think your point is correct, kids aren't as tuned into "perfect" the way we are. We always stayed at the Days Inn/Days Lodge growing up and I don't remember thinking those stays were inferior to the lone stay at the Polynesian.

    I've been on this theme for a while now. A few years at least. I think we tend to look for perfection where it won't be found.

    I was reading a thread earlier on the Disboards. People were debating whether to decorate the windows of resort rooms. I don't care much for people hanging their crap in windows but I don't mind it none. But it seemed like there were people on the thread who felt their right to a pristine resort was infringed upon by someone else's window decorations.

    I wondered where the right to a pristine resort could be found.

    Anymore, it seems we're all looking for the perfect ideal. And we don't want anything to infringe upon it.

    Frickles and La2: good words from both of you. And I hope you both have a Merry Christmas as well.

    NCSJodi: glad to see you again!


  18. Hi ZZUB,

    Just got back from the World, 80 degrees to 2 feet of snow in our great NW. Wowza!
    You have got to get the DW in December. The Candlelight Processional is better than butter pound cake and banana pudding mixed together.


  19. Merry Christmas Zzub! I am so thankful that there are still people out there that not only remember why we celebrate but aren't afraid to share that reason with others. God bless you and your entire family this Christmas season.

    And might I say, it's a Christmas tree and not a Holiday tree. Ugh. That drives me bananas!

  20. Good morning ZZUB! And Merry Christmas! WOW. The pic is beautiful. We had a couple of cold days recently, but I believe our Christmas day will be warm and rainy. Nice.

    Thank you for the post. Everyone else has stated so eloquently how easy it is to brush the Reason aside for the other things that are filling up our minds and our to-do lists. But praise God, His peace is ours for the asking. He came to give us life - abundant life. Not life free from everything negative or troublesome, but a life that even during those trials, is a life full of hope. And peace. And God given joy.

    I know you will have a blessed holiday, ZZUB. The NM family will as well. We have much to be thankful for, and even if we didn't, we have a Savior. And that's enough.

    Merry Christmas, ZZUB. And the rest of you folks, too.

    P.S. Why am I craving a great big ole biscuit?

  21. Merry Christmas to the Zzubs. I'm glad I found where you went off to.

    Loonie Roonie

  22. A belated Merry Christmas to the Zzubs!

    Although, our Savior is timeless and there's nothing about Him that is "once a year" so I guess "belated" doesn't really apply.

    But I'm glad you had some snow! If that's what you wanted....Me, I'm pining for the Sunshine State and would be happy to ship you some of the excess white stuff that's layin' around in my yard. ;)

    God bless, Zzub!

  23. Dang post eating blog.

    Merry Christmas. There was more but your blog ate it.

    (must remember to log in...)

  24. I am so glad you have your own Blog. I have been reading your writing since your first trip report. Thanks for bringing me closer.

  25. What a relief! I stumbled across your blog while sniffing around for the latest installment of "The Battle."
    Although you and I probably won't be getting a carpool together to go to the inauguration, I respect your love for family, faith, and Disney. And I really dig your writing. Anyone who can make me laugh through tears is pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing your gifts through this blog.

    Joy and peace to the Zzubs as we begin a new year.

  26. Now you've gone and made me feel bad. Although I didn't go out to the malls and Wal-Mart scouring the racks and shelves for that perfect gift. I know I didn't put as much emphasis on the true meaning for the season as I should have.

    And I have so very much to be grateful for that was given to me by the Lord. I did think about the birth of Christ this Christmas season but I'll admit it was on the outskirts of my mind.

    I vow to do better in 2009.

    No one's getting a gift!

  27. SNEEZIE!

    It's another Festivus Miracle! Sneezie is in the house!!! Glad to see you my fellow cake lover.

    I thought of you the other night. We had a ton of desserts left over from Christmas Eve and Mrs. Z put them all on the table and we had a dessert buffet. It was good!


  28. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ZZUB and friends! :)

    I is as much fun to plan a trip to the World as being there!! And, just as much fun to write about when you get home. It is amazing to me how much more I remember the good times and not the bad ones as I write.

  29. I'll eat hot wings and pass gas in your honor as I watch the Sugar Bowl tonight. Roll Tide!

  30. Holy cow! I feel like it's Christmas all over again! I thought I'd do a search to see if Zzub had surfaced somewhere and I'm so thrilled to have found this! I was really feeling bad that something so wonderful appeared to be gone!! Hooray!!!