Friday, November 30, 2007

The Cinnamon Bear

Yesterday we began our annual pre-Christmas tradition.  No, it's not the Advent wreath (though we'll light it up on Sunday).
No, it's not the Christmas tree (next week).
No, it's not even heading out to the mall.
Yesterday, we started listening to "The Cinnamon Bear."  It is one of our simple and secular Christmastime pleasures.
If you've never heard of this delightful little radio play, it's about two children (Jimmy and Judy), who are in search of their stolen silver star for their Christmas tree.  They meet a tiny stuffed bear who is alive and transports them to the magical "Maybe Land" and finally the North Pole to find the star.
This radio play was first aired in 1937 and has been playing more or less continuously on some radio station or other since then.  It comes in twenty-six  episodes (roughly 10 minutes each) that run every day from November 29 through Christmas Eve.  Wikipedia says it's most popular in the northwest, but I remember listening to it when I was a child -- and my parents listened to it when they were children.
A few years ago, my parents sent us the entire show on cassettes.  Now we listen to it on CDs.  Our older son is "too old," these days (he'll get over it), but our youngest is still into it, and as he sat excitedly with me listening to those dated voices, it felt like a blessed moment.
Now, as I said, this is totally secular and in general doesn't give a person any sense of what Christmas is about (don't you hate those shows that talk about the "Christmas Spirit" when what they mean is giving presents?).
But then, this country really celebrates two Christmases, doesn't it?  We have Christian Christmas where we celebrate the birth of Christ.  It's a beautiful feast in which we remember one crucial fact about Jesus -- he was incarnate -- one of us.  Which is probably why he understands us so well and loves us warts and all.
The OTHER Christmas is probably older.  It's that winter festival that attempts to bring some color and life into the otherwise drab winter months.  The OTHER Christmas was unknown in many warmer countries that simply didn't need it, but in colder lands....  Anyway, it's alive and well today.  The primary difference is that we have turned even that secular holiday into a more secular time by focussing on shopping and gift giving.  
But I digress.  If you think this sounds interesting, you can Google it and you'll find sites where you can listen to the episodes.  If you want to listen to episodes, try   or . 

Have fun and Happy Advent!