A New Kind of Christmas
By firstname.lastname@example.org on November 22, 2010
Christmas has gotten tricky, hasn't it? It isn't what it used to be. It is what it is. So I wonder what makes so many of us long for what is was, missing the magic that's available in this particular Holiday Now.
To be clear, I'm using "Christmas" kind of generically here, because it's what I had as a kid, and what I still have, although in a completely different way. Of course I realize there are loads of other winter holidays to be observed. I'm not counting those out. I'm just speaking my own language.
We all have our childhood Christmas memories, good or bad. Mine happen to be good. Really good. Mom was a master at Creating the Magic, from the silly music, to the candy pink tree, to the home made cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Santa always filled the entire living room with gifts for my sisters and me. It was a wonderful, magical superabundance that still makes me happy. That's some powerful magic, to last all these years.
The years in between my childhood and having my own children were sort of lost as far as Christmas went. Some years I went home, but magic like that can't be sustained forever. Kids grow up. Moms get tired. The responsibility and effort involved are huge and exhausting. I know that now. But then in the years when my kids were little, I think I managed to pull off some pretty good Christmas Magic of my own. I hope I taught them how to do it for their own kids someday.
But now we're in the in between years again. My kids are all grown up, none are married, and there are no grandbabies--yet! Our daughter Julia is having a baby in the spring, so in two or three more Christmases he-or-she will be old enough for all of us to sprinkle with Christmas Magic. Until then, we have to get creative for ourselves and make a new kind of Christmas.
Our trip to Ethiopia two years ago changed the way Rick and I see Christmas, and life too, for that matter. We were there for three weeks, up close and personal with a kind of poverty we really could not have imagined. Landing back in Denver, greeted by a snow storm and Holiday Madness everywhere, we looked around us and thought, this is obscene. We just couldn't do it anymore. Since then we've pared it down to simple gifts for our kids, and donations and volunteering around town, with friends and gatherings to keep us feeling festive and connected.
This year, none of our kids will be "home". I worry that they don't come home because they don't trust a Christmas without huge amounts of stuff. They know we won't do that anymore, and I'm sure they understand how it makes no sense to go into debt every year buying things nobody will even remember the following year. But I wish they'd trust us to still create a beautiful, meaningful holiday for them. We'd still do that if they were here. We'd just do it differently.
I guess it's up to them to find their own way and their own magic now. Maybe it won't happen until they have someone else to create the magic for. I've been on both sides of that now, as a child, and as a parent, and both are pretty good. But now it's a time for something different, something smaller, warmer, more personal. For me now, it's not at all about Christmas morning. It's about the entire season, starting now, and including Thanksgiving, and the opportunities to bring light into the dark corners. It's about getting out there and seeing friends and smiling at strangers and feeling the Magic wherever I find it.
Yesterday we put some lights on a tree that grows right outside the trailer window. We'll add to it, and maybe put some birdseed ornaments on it too. Last night, the full moon broke through the clouds long enough to shine down on our little tree--a moment of magic that did not go unnoticed. And during the night a dusting of snow fell, and continues to fall this morning. Yes, it's beginning to look, and feel, a lot like Christmas. Not past, but now, in the present, which is a really great gift.
Life is a trail, not a camp...
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