I used to hate Christmas. Well, not Christmas really. Just what it seemed it had all come to mean, especially after the kids were grown, and there was no more special magic building up to Christmas morning. What seemed left was a non-negotiable requirement to shop, spend, wrap, mail and oh, by the way, do it all with a spirit of joy, peace and love. Sure I would think trying hard to hold off the low simmer of resentment brewing just under the surface. Whose idea was this anyway? I would silently complain feeling quite certain someone must be responsible for my checkbook going red, pants bulging from overeating and stress stealing me away into that just get it done zone. Certainly there were moments that seemed to make it all worthwhile. But, still, I would silently celebrate when it had all passed, even as I would try to ignore that ever so subtle sense of sadness. This is not what Christmas should be about! Something’s off.
It was. And, it was me.
So, in recent years, my husband and I have made a concerted effort to make Christmas our own again and, with enthusiastic intention, have encouraged our family to join in our revolution to reclaim the mystery or, at least, our sanity. Along the way, we’ve tried different things. One year we asked that everyone bring a contribution to our Christmas dinner as an expression of our gift to one another. Worked fine until we discovered that enchiladas did not go so well with pumpkin soup. Another year we suggested we all give only handmade presents until we remembered that we were the only ones with flexible time, or perhaps even the inclination, to enthusiastically create such gifts complete with all the joyful trimmings.
Then, this Christmas, something happened and I found myself totally caught up in that something. Maybe it was decorating the tiny jewelry box I was drawn to give my beautiful granddaughter miles away with her favorite Bible saying. Quite grandma-looking but what fun I had! Or going on a mission to find that most-special calendar, the one I give my oldest daughter every year. Yes! Found it! Or having to get just the right frames for those special pictures of my younger daughter and son-in-law with my beloved granddaughter. Mission accomplished! And, hearing a passing comment by my son-in-law just a week before Christmas. Could I possibly find it and could it possibly get here on time? Yes! Amazing! How in the world could this get any more fun??
And, oh my, watching my beautiful grandson, on Christmas Day, wanting to listen to the book I’d recorded for him, over and over, while his other high tech toys lay waiting. Yes, this was when I absolutely knew I was in heaven – no question – sweetly confirmed a little later by a heart-stopping request from my younger daughter as she cut tomatoes for the Cesar salad.
But, still there was more. This year I could not pass a Salvation Army jingle without giving, a little surprised by that lump in my throat. A not serious, yet unavoidable, trip to the doctor let me know that the visit was only for me in a minor way. I had really been sent on a secret Santa mission. Oh, thank you Beloved. I accept! And, then being told to give something I’ve long had on my altar to an extended relative. This one gave me pause. Really? Are you sure? And then I could only smile. Of course, You are sure! I’m the only one questioning here! Ok. Done!
But, perhaps, the most special of all was finding that last minute stocking stuffer for my husband. Oh, I knew he’d love it. What I didn’t know was that it would instantly bring him back to a sweet memory from his childhood remembering his mom having the exact same item. Only two days earlier we had talked of his mom, long passed, over our morning coffee.
Oh no! Christmas can’t be over! No! There must be a way to make this feeling last all year long…
Oh…yes…that is the point isn’t it…
Now, my only last concern. How will I deck my hammock out with all those boughs of holly? But wait…I’m remembering…
All things are possible to him who believes. Amen.
Merry Christmas Everyone!