This Christmas now joins the ranks of other bygone Christmases, living only in memory. Some memories we wish to forget. Holidays are nothing if not sometimes unpredictable, amusing, a bit ridiculous, maybe obnoxious, embarrassing and stressful.
Those things just aren’t what it’s all about. Those are things that happen. Those are things we can’t stop and we can’t control. People are going to do whatever they do, and in families, there is always that one person that seems hell bent on ruining things for everyone else. That person doesn’t respect themselves, how can they respect others? That person is not what Christmas or family is all about. We forget that sometimes. We allow that person control over how we feel. That’s not fair to ourselves.
Christmas Eve, I was feeling that way. I was wondering why we bothered trying to plan a nice holiday. I was wondering what the point was. I forgot something important. I forgot (for just a moment) that there were a LOT more people in that room, all wanting the same thing I was wanting. To be together. To make memories for ourselves and our children that would make us smile. To enjoy eachother’s company and to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas. I wouldn’t let the actions of one person ruin that for me or for my daughter. We did our best to enjoy what remained of the night.
As a child I loved Christmas. It was my favorite time of year, with the twinkling lights and the decorations. I couldn’t wait to take out the decorations and to set up the nativity. I sang Christmas carols nonstop, much to the chagrin of the sister that still lived at home, I’m sure. I remember the time of year being happy and filled with magic. I’ve lost that the last few years. I had to force myself to make cookies, and most of those I ruined. Baking at Christmas used to be a highlight. I didn’t even get my Christmas cards mailed this year. It is a sad state of affairs when you wish your aunt Merry Christmas on Facebook. Really? I was already fighting the bah-humbug mood I was in when Christmas Eve Disaster struck. I felt my mood slipping. I really didn’t care.
Christmas Day dawned earlier than usual I think. It may have started rather bleary eyed, but I was able to spend the morning with my daughter, and watching her opening her presents made me happy. Knowing that the week before she had given her last five dollars to a family in a store parking lot that looked like they could use the help, no matter how small, made me happy. Watching her open a special present that a kind, anonymous angel had gone through a lot of trouble to give to her, made me happy. That is what Christmas is about. Christmas is about sharing what we have, no matter how little it is, with others. It’s kindness in our hearts. It is the song on our lips. One of my sisters had invited us to her house later that day, so we went. There I was reminded again of what Christmas could be. Watching my sister with her children and grandchildren, knowing how happy it made her to have them there, seeing her smile and laugh with her grandchildren, again made me happy. I was reminded that Christmas is not about those that are too selfish to make the holidays special for others, but about the people in our lives, family and friends, who show us all year that we are important. People who rally around us when we are in need, people who pick us up and help us to stand when we fall, people who offer their support, understanding, kindness and love all year round. That is the spirit of Christmas. That is the spirit of family. Families are never perfect. We all have our forms of dysfunction in one way or another, but those do not speak for the rest of us. Those do not define our families. We cannot help their actions. Their actions do not speak for the rest of us, and they are most certainly not our faults. I thank my sister for having my daughter and me join her family on Christmas Day, and I thank my nephews who go out of their way to include an aunt and a cousin in their lives.
Christmas isn’t about lights, presents and bows. Those things can be fun, but they aren’t what it’s about. Christmas isn’t about the people in our lives that we can’t control. Christmas is so much more than that. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, remember that there lies the spirit of Christmas. Carry that spirit on in our hearts and in our actions. Show love and kindness to others, and remember that there is joy to be found in not only this season, but in everything around us, every day.
For those that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you. For those that do not, I wish you a very Happy New Year, filled with joy and happiness. May we all learn that we can get along, no matter what our personal beliefs may be. May we learn that is is okay to disagree, and even okay to speak our minds. May we learn that it is not okay to hurt others by our words and actions.
I hope the New Year brings you much peace.