Every year gets better. Every Christmas. And I can’t say who’s the reason for the season anymore. It’s just about being there for each other, for family and friends. That’s what it’s about all the time, isn’t it? Do we realize this fact? I just found it far more satisfying than I’d thought I would. The materialism connected with this whole holiday tradition can be enough to nauseate me. The personal history surrounding this time of year can be daunting to overcome. Once upon a time…
Once upon a time I never believed in Santa ’cause, as I was religiously taught, Jesus’ birthday was the reason to celebrate and nothing more. We even chose not to observe the holiday a couple times as a child since it was so loaded with materialism and Santa madness. We were so righteous and I wore a long skirt and skipped along oblivious, a child happy her parents had all the answers. Then there were years of travelling to Nacogdoches, Texas to visit family over the holidays at the expense of Christmas itself in order to watch others’ unwrap gifts and exclaim with joy. This trek took place over a 2-day span of journeying through state after state, leaving Georgia, crossing over into Alabama, then into Mississippi where we would dip and bob along the bumpy stretch of highway and land somewhere to sleep at night. Usually at a Holiday Inn and usually I had the flu, some body outcry of protest against the struggle between my parents. But when I didn’t, I was sandwiched between them, my three older sisters in the back while I avoided Dad’s elbow and counted hawks. It was the only time I got to see my grandparents. It was a time my mom wanted to spend making her own memories with her own family. How could I not be glad to see my Texas cousins and aunts, uncles, g’parents? But how could I not be torn? My parents were my world. One on that side and one on the other side and me ripped in half in the middle.
You learn to be flexible and resilient and supremely grateful for the smallest tokens. Sometimes too grateful and too small. This is what I get to work on this time of year and my kids are a big part of the healing. Sounds sad. But I’m not eat up with sorrow over it all. What I find is the opportunity to see what we can experience of it for ourselves, apart from ideas of what it’s supposed to mean, what we can shift and sift through, and I find so much change in our lives molding us into the makers of our own meaning. Besides, what happens when you go from the long skirt to “Jesus, huh?” You grow and your children are set free to make their own stories.
There are some pleasure perks to this holiday besides the growing and the lavishing. Yet…it has potential negative smacking influence. That gobbling frenzy, gorging gulp down against the tide of all that threatens to spew out. But not this time around. I didn’t have to justify the rightness of my “new” idea of Christmas or dissect the flaws of the season. I’m bankrupt on too many levels. (The kind of bankruptcy that allows life to grow a wealth indestructible. The best kind.) I didn’t have much money to spend and it didn’t matter. My kids love the processes of acknowledging the joy of being alive, those process unique to this season and that is what this is for them. And is what it has become for me. In spite of so much reason to be angsty, discouraged and otherwise bothered. There are so many other reasons to be thrilled with life. And I learn a ton.
I learn that it’s about deepening the bonds of love and strengthening the commitment to observed pleasures without losing balance or perspective. It’s OPPORTUNITY. And. That. Is. Good.
Hey…on with it! Time for me to hit the road for another trek for love’s sake…this time it won’t take two days.