Caught into a Beautiful Moment

For the entire 20 years of my existence, I could only remember Christmas as a Christian holiday. I was brought up to keep on anticipating for this day. The year-end gathering and the week-long vacation that accompany the event is too exhilarating. For such a long period, the Christmas day had not been more special than the rest of the vacation. This changed on December 24th 2009. It had been my first genuine Christmas. It made me recognized the beauty of Christmas, apart from its religious significance.

A photograph that was taken last Christmas always reminds me of the beauty of the celebration itself. The beauty of Christmas took me by surprise when my parents took me to the mall for the traditional Christmas shopping. It was our first Christmas here in Los Angeles. Since we did not spend a lot of time together this year, we had a lot of catching up to do. We spent almost the whole day telling our stories and planning for the Christmas Eve. The fact that we are far away from home made us feel like strangers in this foreign land. This led us to be more dependent with each other. It made me realized how much I missed my family and how special Christmas is.

The Christmas Eve was even more colorful for us, because everything is being experienced differently from the way they are presented in Hong Kong. As we strode the streets of Los Angeles, we had a chance to listen to a Christmas choral. Their synchronize gesture and the play of tones and melody was very different from what we were accustomed of. We also had a chance to see a real Christmas tree. Back in Hong Kong, we only have synthetic Christmas trees. The Christmas tree gives a unique feeling of authenticity. It must have been my exposure to copies or imitation that made me admire the beauty of the tree itself. At home, the Christmas meal was never been as delicious. The cold temperature, made our hot meals exquisitely delicious. The hot soup that my mom cooks every Christmas reminded us of our home in Hong Kong. However, in Hong Kong, we shared the meal with our relatives. Last Christmas, we only shared it among ourselves. It felt mystical and serene, because we quietly finished the food and talked about matters after the meal.

Prior to this event, Christmas come and go like other holidays. The ordinariness of celebrating Christmas had stripped away its beauty. Celebrating had become an extravagant practice. Symbolic decors and practices were brandished with glitter and exaggeration. The real beauty of Christmas was being forgotten.

Beauty had long been a controversial topic because of its subjectivity (Hillman). The differences in opinion and preference had been the basis of this argument. In other culture, the beauty of the Christmas spirit is not something to celebrate or to take notice off. Other families do not even care about the spirit of Christmas they merely attend Christmas gatherings as part of traditions. Perceptions, cultures, traditions, religious beliefs, and a concoction of other factors in the society as well as personal experiences and influences, could greatly affect the notion of beauty. If I had celebrated Christmas in Hong Kong last year, I would not realize how it creates a stronger bond between me and my parents. I would not see the incident as something beautiful but as an ordinary holiday about the birth of Christ.

Nonetheless, upon recognizing the beautiful, there is a tendency to replicate the object (Scarry). The memory of the beautiful is retained in the mind. Just as the memory of that Christmas had been one of my most memorable experiences. Then the beautiful is replicated through imagination. Soon after, it will be transformed into tangible representations such as words, paintings, sculpture, and pictures.  This is the reason why I could recapitulate the events last Christmas by merely looking at our family picture.

The subjectivity entails that the concept of beauty differs from one person to another. Yet, it is undeniable that different people described similar feelings upon the recognition of beauty. Generally, these include the cant-take-the-eyes-off moments that usually happens whenever the senses perceives something beautiful.  As I am holding the photograph, I was reminded of the beauty of celebrating Christmas. The mind agrees that the beautiful bring forth a pleasure and tranquility. After reminiscing about the events and the feelings I had last Christmas, I would feel satisfied and happy. According to Elaine Scarry, the perceiver does not merely recognize the beautiful but he is also left with the task of begetting or the perpetual duplicating of the moment that never stops.


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