Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Explanation: “Love is When…”

Santa ClausAt our Christmas Eve service last night, the sermon was about love. The priest began with a list of definitions of the word, definitions given by children. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a source for this list but I was permitted to take it home to share with you.

Have you noticed that children get to the essence of a defintion by way of example rather than using a synonym? Most philosophers would agree with their method.

In the children’s responses listed below the fold, you will see love as newness, as sacrifice, fidelity, forgiveness, and listening. Perhaps most important of all, the experience that love drives out fear.

Also notice that Afonso's example, which I added from the comments, touches on the heart's anticipation and expectation of love's arrival, and Old Atlantic Lighthouse gives us an example of love as courage in the face of evil.

So here’s the list from the kids, i.e., “love is when…”
- - - - - - - - -
  • Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French Fries without making them give you any of theirs.
  • Love is that first feeling you have before all the bad stuff gets in the way.
  • When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.
  • Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.
  • Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other that well.
  • Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.
  • When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know your name is safe in their mouth.
  • When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more.
  • Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
  • Love is when you're waiting for someone to arrive just for their sheer presence - Afonso
  • Love is when you tell the truth even though you know you will be called racist and the same mistake will continue anyhow - Old Atlantic Lighthouse.

One time I said to a foster child who was sorrowing about his neglectful and in some ways embarrassing father, “there’s no law that says you have to love him”. I thought this response would allow some distance for him, a bit less pain. The boy thought for a moment and then shook his head. “The law in my heart says I must,” he told me. So much for my cold comfort to a ten year-old.

May the love that you’ve known in the past, or the love you experience now be your comfort and joy.

I wish all of our readers bounteous love, from wherever it may come, and the good sense to see it when it’s right in front of you (that can be most difficult sometimes).

If anyone has some more examples of love, I’d be most pleased to add them to the children’s list of “Love is When…”

For me, love is when you can just let Christmas be Christmas without having to make it something else. For that understanding, arrived at so painfully, I am most grateful and happy.

Love is when you’re happy to be here.


James Higham said...

Merry Christmas to all at Gates of Vienna. Health and good cheer today.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Not christian myself, as many of you will already know. BUT I am strong enough in MY beliefs, unlike some others that could be mentioned ;-), to be able to wish YOU all a merry christmas.
My turn comes on 31/01 this year, the nearest full moon AFTER 21/12 is Jule.

BUT I have already partaken in the spirit,.... and the beer, and the wine, oh... and the cakes and buscuits, so I have TWO bites of the cherry. :-)))

One thing is important; "HAVE FUN YO'ALL!

heroyalwhyness said...

Kellemes Karacsonyi Unnepeket es Boldog Uj evet kivanok mindenkinek aki szereti Gates of Vienna ! -
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone who loves Gates of Vienna! - "Kiskarácsony, nagykarácsony" sung by the Hungarian Childrens Choir

karaoke version:
Kiskarácsony, nagykarácsony,
kisült-e már a kalácsom?
Ha kisült már, ide véle,
Hadd egyem meg melegébe!

Jaj, de szép a karácsonyfa!

Ragyog rajta a sok gyertya!
Itt egy szép könyv ott, egy labda!
Jaj, de szép a karácsonyfa!

Béke szálljon minden házra,
Kis családra, nagy családra!
Karácsonyfa fenyőága,
Hintsél békét a világra!

Kis fenyőfa, nagy fenyőfa,
kisült-e már a malacka?
Ha kisült már, ide véle,
Hadd egyem meg melegébe!

Deck the Halls, big Christmas,
turned out to have the cake?
If you have already turned out, including him,
Let me consume your warmth!

Oh, how nice the Christmas tree!
It shines a lot of candles!
Here is a beautiful book there is a ball!
Oh, how nice the Christmas tree!

Get all the house of peace [church],
Small family, big family!
Pine Christmas tree,
Hope for peace in the world!

Small pine, big pine,
turned out to have a ham?
If you have already turned out, including him,
Let me consume your warmth!

Afonso Henriques said...

Love is when...

... you're waiting for someone to arrive just for the sheer presence.

Merry Christmas Baron & Dymphna.

Dymphna said...

Merry Christmas to all of you, too.


There must a certain chord progression in western music that signals "this is a Christmas tune", or maybe "this is a song of winter"...

A friend gave us a picnic ham with the instructions to have it on Christmas. So we are, thus fulfilling the words of this song where it says:

Small pine, big pine,
turned out to have a ham?

So we "turned out to have a ham".

Picnic hams are the cheaper cut, but I've always preferred them to the more expensive ones (unless we're talking about Westphalian ham!) If you simmer picnics gently with bay leaves, pepper corns, a pinch of ground cloves (and juniper berries if you have them), plus malt or cider vinegar, they have a wonderful flavor. For the last half hour, I remove the ham from its bath and bake it with a glaze. I think this is a recipe from the Depression as an old man gave me the instructions when I was just beginning as a cook.

We'll also have warm German potato salad and collard greens cooked the way the Brazilians do...if they're still fresh enough for that, anyway.

Dessert will be baked apples...good excuse to use warm cream.

For the first time in our lives, we're using a fake tree, the kind that are already strung with lights. I can remember when both of us looked down on anyone who'd resort to these hideosities, but now this one makes me smile every time I look at it. The Baron was dubious about my "fakery" too, but he's enjoying it now that the little 3 ft tree is up...I think we're both amused at the snide superiority of our younger selves.


Afonso-- thank you for your addition to the list. I put it in the post and added "anticipation" as one of the qualities of love.

costin said...

Merry Christmas to my favourite bloggers on the whole internet!

hank_F_M said...


I hope you and the Baron had a very merry Christmas.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Love is when you tell the truth even though you know you will be called racist and the same mistake will continue anyhow. Because just one year, the people around you may wake up and help kick the football.

Dymphna said...

@Old Atlantic Lighthouse --

yes! Love is indeed the willingness to tell the truth in spite of everything. Or sometimes to refrain from a needless brutal truth.

So...what you're saying is that love is courage.

I added your "love is when" example to the group....