It is the Christmas season. Christmas is the chief of all the American holidays. It is loaded with activities: parties, decorating, family, gifts and all kinds of food. There is heavy pressure from the commercial side to go all out and it starts right around Thanksgiving. I personally don’t want to see Christmas decorations, or hear Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving. This year I did not get out my Christmas decorations on the day after Thanksgiving. Nor did I participate in any Black Friday shopping sprees.
I have been trying to avoid the potential pain in my heart. This year I am missing my husband, so every song and decoration has the power to bring joy, sadness, nostalgia, excitement, and loneliness. I never know which one it will be. I don’t like the unpredictable nature of it. In the meanwhile there are plans being made all around me for Christmas parties, potluck holiday lunches, Christmas ornament exchanges and more. It is all going at a dizzying pace and if I think about it too much I just want to shut down and step out.
I am not so worried about Christmas itself. I will be with family on Christmas and that will be both comforting and joyful. It is everything else leading up to it that I am having to figure out piece by piece. This week I went three separate times to look at Christmas trees. I wandered up and down the aisles looking at different kinds of trees, different sizes, colors, with and without lights. Up and down. Round and round, in a daze. Each time I left without a tree, feeling a little disappointed. For some reason this seems like a pivotal decision. Should I even bother? If I don’t find some way to make Christmas for myself what happens next year when it comes around again?
When I got home I found a large box on the kitchen shelf. I hadn’t ordered anything recently and wasn’t expecting any deliveries. I opened it up to find a large Christmas wreath that my sister and brother-in-law had sent. The fresh smell of the pine boughs rose up out of the box. The smell of Christmas. It brought tears to my eyes. Christmas will happen with or without my husband at my side. I took the wreath and hung it on the front door. I also hung some lights and put out my Christmas flamingos.
The next day after wandering around the Christmas trees and décor at the store, yet again, I came home with a small table-top Christmas tree. I took out my box of Christmas decorations and carefully hung ornaments on it. Each one has a special memory attached to it. There is the tiny knit stocking my mother-in-law made. There is small wreath given to me by my best friend from high school. The holiday mouse from my grandmother peeks out of his stocking, the wooden mitten my son made when he was 2 years old. Christmas past comes to Christmas present.
My nativity scene is spread out across the living room in the tradition of my mother. The manger is currently empty. The wise men are travelling from the far land of coffee table. Mary and Joseph have not yet left TV stand Nazareth for Bethlehem. Baby Jesus is hiding under the Christmas tree. They will get closer as Christmas gets nearer. On Christmas Eve Baby Jesus will arrive and the scene will be complete.
At church today the last song was Christ Tomlin’s “Noel”. It was done so beautifully and powerfully. It made me realize that I didn’t have to be afraid of what Christmas will bring. I already have Christmas inside me. I will give myself permission to decide which traditions and activities to participate in. I will give myself the grace to change my mind at any time and not feel obligated. I will allow myself the space anytime, anywhere to express my feelings as they happen. I am finding my way. Little by little.
Come and see what God has done
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us