How many of us truthfully experience a Hallmark Christmas? I have watched the movies and read the books about those magical Christmases when all is bright--all is calm. My Christmases are truly magical, but not in a fairy tale way, but instead in a realistic -more of a I am human way. That lovely Christmas dinner we all sit down to enjoy in our Christmas best does not magically appear. In fact most of what we are convinced it takes to make Christmas perfect requires a great deal of work.
My early childhood did hold many a magical Christmas. My father loved Christmas with a childlike glee. Lights, decorations, stars, managers, and LOTS of gifts. Those years were filled with childlike amazement of all the fun and fantasy only a child can enjoy. And yet, I found myself wanting the rocket my brothers got for Christmas, not the Betsy Wetsy Doll. Would you rather launch a rocket or change a diaper on a forever wetting doll? Even as a child that hint of dis-satisfaction had crept in.
Fast forward to adulthood with children. I took up where my dad left off in the quest to make the perfect Christmas. Every year saw a frenzy of activity--lots of gifts, decorations that grew exponentially with the years--baking and candy making--visiting all the relatives--church plays-school plays--an exhausting frenzy of things to do. Usually by Christmas day, the kids were cranky, I was exhausted, and there was never quite the perfect Christmas.
An empty nest meant a different Christmas. My children were born in three different decades, so I had children still at home when the grands started coming. It only took one Christmas in a quiet house away from that sweet grand to realize that was never happening again. That year began my traveling Christmases. I still decorated, cooked, and partied, but the gift giving became simpler and easier. Christmas day would find me at one of the Grand's homes watching the wonder of Christmas once again through the eyes of a child.
New York City provided an explosion of what we have made Christmas. The sidewalks were crowded--so crowded you could hardly move. There was holiday cheer in abundance--occasionally you observed the cheer had been over indulged in. The lights were bright and the decorations lavish--all in an effort to entice the holiday shopper. It was surely Christmas on steroids.
Slowly I have realized what is truly important about Christmas. Christmas has not changed, but my attitude about what it takes to make a perfect Christmas has. Being with family and friends--decorating for the fun of it--not thinking it is required--cooking what is fun and we all love (this year it is Lulu's chili)--enjoying selecting those gifts and not stressing over the perfect gift.
Most important--I have come to realize the way to truly enjoy Christmas is taking the time to remember the Why. Stopping each day of the season and reflecting on Who we are celebrating. Remembering and standing in amazement that God chose to send His Son. Christmas has morphed in to the Most Wonderful Time of The Year--not because of the tinsel, the gifts, the dinners. Christmas is a reminder of the Great Love of a Great God and the birth of a tiny baby in a lowly manager--all those years ago. Christmas has morphed back to the simple one of years ago when in the silence of the night, with the stars shining bright, you can almost hear the cry of a new born babe.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, MY FRIENDS!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.