Monday, December 29, 2008
It's over? Already?
Each year I try to savor Christmas. I read the decorating magazines, watch the required movies (Elf, Scrooged, Rudolph). I listen to the homilies and the priests saying Christmas begins on the 25th, not before. But I disagree.
Preparing for Christmas is like preparing for a new baby. You decorate the room, you have presents and showers, you choose a name and you look forward to the day when your life will change. How is that different from Christmas? I know the priests do not want us getting caught up in the materialistic celebration, but buying or making presents for others brings us joy. I think God wants us to feel the joy He had when he brought His only Son into the world. We can't truly know, but as parents, we do understand the joy, the fear, the frustration, the excitement of waiting for the new baby. Let us have that, and stop trying to take the pre-celebration away from us.
Despite knowing this, it comes and goes like a flash and I miss it. In Ohio, we had a pastor who loved tradition and pomp and circumstance. He would invite everyone to bring bells to ring for Midnight Mass. I would be so busy, that I would forget, and my little girls would be disappointed, and my mother's guilt would crescendo. One very bad year, I had forgotten again. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see an unfamiliar elderly man. He handed me his bells and said "They can ring mine." The girls took turns ringing the bells and the joy in their faces was overwhelming. That was one of the few moments I have had where Christmas made me feel peaceful and content and I knew we would get through that terrible time.
I have grand delusions every year. Things to make, people to impress (why do I care?), gifts to purchase, our annual party to prepare for. By the time the party happens, Christmas is anticlimactic. Isn't that sad? I spent so much time preparing for the party, I didn't have time to decorate (the girls handled all of that), I didn't have time to shop (Matthew and the girls handled that), and I put my body through incredible pain, standing for such along time- baking and cleaning.
I think next year we will have our party on Christmas Eve. I imagine fewer people will come, but at least the highlight will coincide with Christmas. The girls get the party they want, the house is clean for Christmas, and I only have to cook once instead of twice. I like this plan. It will give me more time to savor the moment with Matthew and the girls. Less is more? We'll see.