The Christmas season is upon us. I think I’m finally beginning to reclaim some joy for this season. It’s amazing what an idyllic childhood of Christmases will do to hinder and taint your attempts to enjoy the holiday as a single adult.
Christmases past are perfect in my memory and all of that had to do with my mom.She was way better than Santa Claus. Most of the year she was pretty stressed with work and taking care of three girls on her own, but at Christmas time she was the Happiest Little Elf version of herself. Her happiness would spill over to her three daughters in a way that caused us to fight less and love more. The weekend after Thanksgiving she would pull out the boxes and the whole house would be transformed. A stack of the best Christmas records would sit on the record player and when they had played through we would just flip them all over and start again.
As the youngest in the house, I always got up first on Christmas morning. Sometime around age 7 or 8 I crept down the hall before daylight and there in the living room, in the magical glow of the Christmas tree lights, sat a shiny, red bicycle. I knew it was for me. After gaping at it for a few seconds, I slipped into my mom’s room to wake her up. Before I said anything, her sleepy voice came from under covers, “I missed The Face.” Of course she meant the face I made when I saw that glorious bike, so I replayed it for her….
Although presents were fun, it was a lot more about all of us being together and being happy together. That combination was our traditional Christmas miracle. And it was all because mom loved Christmas and allowed her joy to be contagious.
Nothing has really been the same since she moved to Idaho in 2003. Saying it that way, I’m chagrined to admit it’s taken me 10 years to finally let go of what we had and look for my own joy during this season. There have been several unplanned setbacks; for many of those years I worked all December long at a kind of Christmas fair, which was more like Santa’s Sweatshop in terms of cultivating seasonal spirit. I also got a divorce several years ago and that tends to put a damper on a plethora of family oriented experiences.
But now. Now I may finally be a grown up without any reason to brood over the holidays. I’m not so interested in the Christmas miracles being sold by our media, but I am grateful to look around this year and have such precious friends and family. My Christmas-elf-mama is still out there and she’s likely giving joy to her Idaho family and friends. I’m grateful for that. My sisters and their families are back in Washington and I will get to spend some time hanging out with them. I’ll wear pajamas. I’ll hopefully bake things (guys, can I bake some stuff?). We’ll watch Christmas movies like, Die Hard and listen to the best old Christmas music (digital now).
Before flying home, I’ll spend this week with my students and fellow staff in the SBS. I’m really grateful for them and for the family we are becoming.
I guess that’s the whole point of this post. I’m grateful. Grateful that dark seasons are only seasons, grateful for the great cloud of loved ones I get to walk with through life.
May your Christmas be filled with joy and most of all gratitude for whatever or whomever you’ve been given.