Are you one of those people who lives for Christmas or are you a bit more like scrooge before he had his moment of enlightenment ? Are you somewhere in between?
This year will be my 50th Christmas! That means I’ve had many to reflect upon and to come up with a meaning that fits for me. We all have Christmas memories, some good, some not so good. As I share this with you, I hope that it you will stir in you some memories as well as some new possibilities of ways to view this often very busy and stressful yet magical season.
Personally, I have wonderful childhood memories of Christmas. My parents really knew how to do Christmas. It was full on. My Dad put the lights outside and even made a wooden display of Santa and the reindeers for the yard with big colored flood lights. This was pretty advanced at the time. He’d get at big, lush tree (that smelt so good) from the bush and we’d all decorate it well ahead of time. A fond Christmas traditions at our house was that one night before Christmas my brothers and I would sleep under the twinkling Christmas tree. We loved this tradition. What my parents didn’t know (until years later), was that we opened up our presents, played with them i the middle of he night and then wrapped them back up. We actually got very little sleep.
My Dad was Norwegian so Christmas eve was Scandinavian style with smelly lutefisk, yummy lefsa with hot, melter butter drizzled over everything. My Mom was Irish so Christmas day involved – potatoes. Picking hot potatoes smothered with her delicious turkey gravy. We usually had lots family around, aunts, uncles, cousins and card games util the wee hours.
Then fast forward to my adult life. I never managed to recreate those wonderful childhood Christmas memories. Lord knows I tried! One year, come boxing day, I was mad as a hatter, hunkered down in my bed, with my beloved journal, spewing out pages of frustrations and disappointment. As I was now on the other end of all the work involved and the fatigue, and trying to juggle all of the dynamics of a blended family. The universe was calling me to reflect on why I was doing all this and what it all meant to me.
Then it happened! The magic of Christmas returned for me.
That year my gifts came tied with heartstrings. I watched my 3 boys (who fought most of the time) excitedly exchange their gifts with one another. I could see that what they were really exchanging was warmth and love. I realized that even through the exhaustion, the traditions that I was creating were the threads of an emotional security blanket that they could invisibly carry out into the world. The turkey and all the fixings were like emotional glue that cemented memories of times shared, of joy and laughter.
And then there is the whole Santa part of Christmas. All the fun I had staying up late, ensuring the kids were sound asleep, then putting out all the stuff that Santa brought. Down on the floor, playing with the Brio train set or the lego, eating half the cookies and drinking some of the milk, staging the sceen. Then finally falling into bed, to be awoken about 6:00am by the kids shaking me “Let’s go see what Santa brought”. Those days are over for me but the message of Santa still remains for “I believe.”
I believe with the excitement of a child, that we too can open our minds and hearts to the impossible, the unthinkable. With a child-like trust we can have faith; faith in the unseen. We can consider the expectant possibilities of a life of joy and of goodwill for all.
I believe that Christmas is not just a day; its a state of mind.
That the decorations, the beauty, the twinkling lights, are all outward symbols of our radiant light. For our lives are a gift and what we do with them is our gift in return.
This Christmas I invite you to find meaning in the traditions you create for your family. To allow the spirit of Christmas to become your state of mind. To recognize your radiant light and the gift of your life. And to listen. For as 7 year old Bobby put it, “Love is what’s in the room with you when you stop opening presents and listen.”
Thanks for reading,
Tourism Nanaimo Volunteer