Everything felt from the heart…
Every year when Christmas comes around, I think about all the things that are different from last Christmas. I don’t want to use trite words like “nostalgia” and “reflect,” but by this ellipsis you’ll know what I mean…
This is my first Christmas with a heart that is completely changed for the better, after being put through a pretty thorough battering and bruising.
It’s my first Christmas without my grandma – which is a crazy and painful thought. There are only a handful of people that each of us can remember being there our whole entire lives, and she was one of mine. Others that we’ve met through out life can come and go; it’s when those people who were there before you, waiting for you to start your life, end theirs, that our lives are irreversibly altered, simply by the lack of their presence.
It’s my first Christmas as an adult – not in age, but in my own mind. I’ve grown a thousand years since the fall. But I’m so relieved that things have come full circle – the growing pains are over, and happiness lives on. Horray for yellow!
So, besides the underlying feelings of generosity and excitement that are always present at Christmas, every holiday season is fogged by a different aura. I’m a fan of little traditions, like putting my own ornaments on the Christmas tree, dressing up for the Christmas Eve service, counting down the days, making sure my gifts for everyone are under the tree before anyone else’s… but no matter how tight I hold to those, I can’t help it if some feeling I get about it all this season is a complete surprise. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through everything that’s happened this year, it’s that no matter if your situation is as good or as bad as you thought it could ever get, life always adds. It never subtracts.
So that’s why I’m sitting here now, on Christmas Eve, listening to the best play-list ever, knowing that every year my life gets better. I know that I’m more on my way to who I’m going to be, and all that the past twelve months have brought are pushing me toward that. Everything we learn through life is a gift disguised as a tool.
Isn’t Christmas Eve great? This is the kind of stuff that happens on Christmas Eve – these are the thoughts we think. It’s probably my favorite day of the entire year. If I don’t get anything on my list, and if everyone in my family hates what I oh-so-carefully picked out for them, I don’t know it yet, so nothing can kill the spirit and anticipation of Christmas Eve. It’s still busy, but not in the same way as the rest of the season. At least for me, there’s something more holy and quiet about it. It’s the last moment to think about this kind of thing and really get the right perspective before Christmas actually comes and it’s “too late.”
Now, about that… Usually, trying to get the right “Christmas perspective” involves substituting the word “receiving” for “giving.” I can’t hate on that. It’s a pretty swell attitude to have. This might be due to my nature of seeing the best in humanity, but I think that most people give a lot at Christmas, and they do it joyfully. I love to see that. But I just realized that this year, not once did I have change to drop in the big red bucket. I didn’t put toys in a shoe box or donate my old stuffed animals or sing in the choir or even get to help put up our Christmas tree. I participated in no Secret Santa shenanigans or White Elephant gift exchanges or help decorate at my church. I love those parts of Christmas, and usually do all or most of them, but things stopped me this year.
But you know what, I don’t feel a bit bad about it, because Christmas isn’t about giving. It’s about receiving. A Gift is where it all started.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly Lights, who remains and does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
We give because we have been given. Just like we love because we were first loved. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus, I’m sure you can understand that.
That’s a reason to celebrate.