Gimme a Smile: What do you like about Christmas?

“What do you like about Christmas?” Little Eir asks this question in Deborah Brevoort’s oratorio, “King Island Christmas,” and the villagers respond with delightful aspects of celebrating Christmas on a remote Bering Sea island. Suppose Little Eir asked me:


What do you like about Christmas?

I like the desserts that only come out for Christmas. There’s nothing special about molasses or sweetened condensed milk mixed with chocolate, but in December these mundane ingredients take on almost mythical qualities when transformed into gingerbread and fudge. When peppermint hot chocolate mix appears in stores, you know Christmas can’t be far off.

What do you like about Christmas?

I like window shopping, checking out all the fancy gifts that fill the stores in December. I’m a sucker for the theme baskets, filled with overpriced cheese and crackers, or popcorn and a movie, or exotic coffee along with a set of designer mugs, all covered in shrink-wrap and tied with a bow. The festive packaging transforms these everyday items into a Christmas treat. Don’t forget the candy collections, wrapped in gold foil or arranged in sturdy boxes with see-through lids that bring out the chocolate lovers in all of us.

What do you like about Christmas?

I like the ding-dong of the doorbell signaling the arrival of another package. Those drab mailing boxes have such potential! Who knows what could be inside?

What do you like about Christmas?

I like the dream of a white Christmas, even though it’s often unfulfilled. Hope springs eternal for a wintery wonderland.

What do you like about Christmas?

I like the evening of Christmas Eve, when the shopping is all done. Even though the presents probably aren’t wrapped yet, there’s a moment of peace and family togetherness when we eat our Christmas Eve feast of bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon (“no fuss, no muss, and you don’t have to bake,” in the words of Little Eir’s mother). Then we go to church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service, burn our fingers by dripping wax on them to see if we can lift any fingerprints, and get home in time for Fritos and Christmas cookies. It’s all about tradition.

What do you like about Christmas?

I like the smell of a fresh pine tree in the middle of my living room. This year we’ll be cutting down a tree in the forest. I hear there are plenty of lovely trees in the woods, just waiting to hit the big time and star as the Christmas tree at the Barnhill house. (Yeah, we waited too long to go out and buy a tree this year. Oops!)

What do you like about Christmas?

Don’t tell my family, but I like it when Christmas falls on a Sunday. I like getting up to open the stockings and see what Santa brought, and then getting dressed and having breakfast and heading out to church, leaving unopened presents under the tree for later. That way we can prolong the magic of Christmas, which somehow seems to dissipate once the gifts are all unwrapped and we’re down to trying to extricate the toys from their strait-jacket packaging and figure out how many batteries we should have bought before the stores all close Christmas Eve.

What do you like about Christmas?

I like the Christmas lights that brighten up our dark, rainy Juneau days. Every year there’s a new kind of light on the block. This year the neighbors are projecting laser lights onto their house, creating an entertaining dance of light and color. Before we realized what was going on, we noticed twinkles of colored lights darting about in the tree branches in our backyard like multicolored fireflies. We had our very own magical light show.

What do you like about Christmas?

I like the way that kids seem to be a little less naughty and little more nice at Christmastime. Grownups talk about hope, and joy, and peace in the world. There are lots of opportunities to give to the community, and people rise to the occasion, filled with the Christmas spirit.

What do you like about Christmas?

Suppose Little Eir asked you this question. What would you say?

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and aspiring author who lives in Juneau. She likes to look at the bright side of life.


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