Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A little bit more

This Advent season calmness is getting a little out of control. I may be flirting dangerously with complacency here. I got out of the shower and thought, " is the twenty-what now? I think there are things to be done..."

It is, in fact, the 22nd of December and Christmas is in three, yes three, days. Shouldn't I be frantic by now? Shouldn't I be feeling ill and dosing myself with steady rounds of ibuprofen, Tums and perhaps even an occasional brandy? Well, I'm not.

And don't confuse my lack of hysteria with organization or preparedness. I am simply not that woman. It's just that I've been doing this long enough now to know that it will get done. And if it doesn't it just won't matter. Someone, somewhere must be praying for an extra measure of supernatural peace for me because I've looked at these past few weeks calmly and logically and came to the following conclusion:

In all the Christmas memories I have, of all of the 34 Christmasses I can remember, is there a single ruined one in the bunch? No. Is there one year I can pull out and go, "Oh, yes, how terrible, that was the year Christmas was ruined"? Nope, can't think of one.

Does this mean all of my Christmasses have been perfect, easy, flawless holidays? Of course not! Some pretty terrible things have gone on right around Christmastime from the irritating to the tragic and yet, somehow, Christmas has never been ruined...

What about the year the tree fell over twice and wasn't finished being decorated until 4:00 Christmas morning? That didn't happen to me, but it did to my sisters and it is still the stuff of legend. It's a favorite do-you-remember story in our family. What about the year we spent Christmas Eve in the ER because an 18-month-old Redheaded Snippet had gotten into Gram's melatonin and ate an undetermined amount of it and needed to be held for observation (FYI, she was fine and it seemed to have the opposite affect on her and she tore around the ER like a squirrel on speed for hours on end)? Another very funny story to share.

What about the year my grandfather died the week before Christmas and his funeral was held mere days before? The year The Viking was out of work and we were depending on the kindness and support of family to keep us off the streets? The years (two of them) I was in the hospital on Christmas Day because of complicated pregnancies? The year our first son had died only two months before Christmas? The year my sister lost her twin daughters just one month before and several of us nearly had nervous breakdowns because of the stress and trauma?

I can tell you, those Christmasses were difficult ones, especially that last one. They were not the visions of Holiday Cheer that you see splashed all over greeting cards and Christmas TV Specials. They were not how we would have wanted them. But when I look back, I don't see them as ruined. I can find precious memories embedded in each of them. When we were homeless, my parents took us in and we had Christmas with those who were giving sacrificially for us. When my grandfather died, the sting of his death was removed by the celebration of the birth of the One who conquered death for all. One year I was in the hospital, I was discharged on Christmas morning and what a wonderful gift that was! The other year, The Viking and Redheaded Snippet brought Christmas to my hospital room and it was probably the calmest, most peaceful, least stressful Christmas ever! The years after my son and then my nieces died, the family rallied once more and it was in those times that our bonds were strengthened.

See? Not a ruined Christmas among them! Despite the circumstances there has always been joy, peace and, most of all, hope on Christmas Day. And those are things you cannot buy or fabricate. They are bestowed on us by God Himself and are what Christmas, through the remembrance of the ultimate gift of salvation sent in a tiny, baby package, is all about. And if I can survive and remember with joy all those Christmasses that should have been heinous, I can certainly survive a few late-arriving gifts, a dried-out turkey, a less-than clean bathroom and a complaining relative or two!

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 'What if Christmas', he thought, 'doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?'"--Dr. Seuss

May you find more in less this Christmas!

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