...otherwise known as "Duh!".
I get it. I really get it. I get Christmas! It IS love. I got it at about 4 am England time this morning. As I see it, all of our traditions surrounding Christmas are made in celebrating the love we feel for others---the Christmas tree, the lights, the carolers, the baking and cooking, the gifts.
I'll back up to these thoughts. I used to LOVE Christmas. I love to give, that's just me. Last year after a 6-month illness, my father---my remaining parent--passed away on December 9th. Christmas last year was just a date on the calendar. It was just December 25th. No love. Nothing left to give. I felt nothing except for the deepest sadness I ever felt in my life.
Leading up to Christmas this year, even on Christmas Eve, I felt as if I was going through the motions of Christmas. As I woke up very early this morning, a thought occurred to me, as I silently wished Mom and Dad a Merry Christmas, that Christmas isn't about the shopping, the baking & cooking, putting up the decorations, spending time with friends and family, but it is all about the LOVE. And I can FEEL it. I can FINALLY feel it. All of this preparation we go through is to prepare to celebrate it on Christmas with those we love (simply, kinda like decorating for a birthday party).
Andrew and I are in England with his family this year for Christmas. It's a lot simpler here. His family listens to "Lessons and Carols" on Christmas Eve and goes to the 11 pm church service, and on Christmas Day we go to church at 11, eat Christmas lunch, and listen to the Queen's Speech and have tea and open gifts. We'll have a light supper later on for those who are hungry. They don't put up outside lights, but inside of his parents' houses are decorated with Christmas trees and garland. It's very special to be here this year.
"In America", as it's called here in England, we put so much pressure on ourselves, and I blame the commercialism of our culture, to find the "perfect gift". I work with the poor, and know that they put so much on themselves because they don't have the money to BUY the perfect gift. Who says the perfect gift has to cost money? My favorite gifts this year have been conversations with family and friends whom I love and who love me--where those words have been shared. A telephone conversation with one of my best friends in Illinois sticks out in my mind here from last weekend. We talk every day about the mundane tasks or work, life, and pets. The conversation took a really special turn when Julie shared with me how much our friendship meant to her. You can't wrap that, put a bow on it, and put it under the tree, but it lasts longer than any material gift ever would.
I have to share what's just happened as I'm writing this that has reminded me of my childhood. It's 5:47 a.m. and Andrew's niece and nephew, Helen and Adrian, have just come down, half-awake but excited, to get their stockings and took them back to their rooms. I FELT the smile on my face as I wished them a Merry Christmas and remembered that memory. My parents used to put our stockings at the foot of our beds. I woke up to the sound of my stocking hitting the floor I kicked my stocking off the bed, and Christmas morning began. As I write this now, the kids are up in their rooms opening their stockings, and I can hear their excitement.
The grief I allowed myself to experience this year has changed me-hopefully for the
better and hopefully it will last for the rest of my life here on earth. I take time and energy now to share my thoughts and
feelings with those very special people in my life. And there are
LOTS of them. We are all surrounded by love every second of the year,
and we celebrate in on Christmas.
Why not celebrate more often than
Christmas? This is my gift to everyone in my life----celebrate this gift of love every day and every second of your lives.