Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Christmas Means to Me 12.25.10

I was up until about 1:30 this morning, finishing getting presents ready and the family Christmas breakfast prepared, and checking on some last minute business online...and in the quiet of the night while my husband and stepsons were sleeping soundly, I sat back in my office chair, doing a mental checklist to make sure that everything was ready for the morning. I thought of all of the presents under the tree, smiled to myself as I envisioned our grandkids opening this present or that, the adult kids hopefully liking the choices we had made for their own gifts, wondering whether or not Al suspected his new XBox system surprise, and taking a moment to reflect on everything that had gone into this holiday season.

The reality of the actual celebration often is a letdown after all of the planning and preparation... the kids arrive, we share a breakfast, open presents, call Great-Grandma back in Illinois, visit awhile, and before I know it, it's over. My kids have headed out to their in-laws for the last of their holiday celebratory visits, Al is taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more about his new toy from his sons, the last of the wrapping paper has been relinquished to the recycle bin, and I'm sitting here ruminating on this day, my favorite holiday of the year. And I'll admit it, I'm a bit disillusioned... perhaps because I do have so very much this holiday, when I know that so many others have so little.

There are times I feel like Charlie Brown from A Charlie Brown Christmas... I don't understand what Christmas is truly all about anymore. Yes, I understand the commemoration of the birth of the Christ-child, but beyond that, I find myself questioning what Christmas is all about...what Christmas means to this big-city girl with the small town heart. I thought I'd share a few of those thoughts with you as my Christmas message today.

For starters, Christmas is about giving... just as Christians celebrate God's gift of His only son, to me Christmas is definitely about giving... but not presents. I could seriously be happy without presents. There is so much more holiday cheer and the spirit of the season in the simple act of holding a door for the stranger behind you at the store, or giving up your place in line to someone who's in much more of a rush than you than in any "thing" you might think you "gotta have".

Christmas is about opening your heart - coming together with family and friends and giving of yourself, your experience, your support, and your love.
It's about opening your door and your holiday table to the lonely neighbor down the street who would otherwise be spending his first Christmas alone since his wife died.
It's about visiting your local senior center to listen to stories of Christmases long gone, told by people who are simply happy to have someone to talk to - many of whom are forgotten by their own families.
Christmas is watching the delight on the faces of the little ones in your family as they put on their Christmas skits for the adults at the family get together - and no one being too busy or too grown up to sit down and appreciate how seriously the kids take putting on their shows.
Christmas is donating a gift of a toy or piece of clothing for a child who wouldn't otherwise have any toys or even shoes to cover their feet.
It's anonymously covering the cost of a senior's prescription copay when you know they're making the choice between medicine and heating their home.
Christmas is volunteering at the local food bank to help put a holiday meal in the tummies of those who might otherwise be scrounging around for a way to get simply enough food to survive.
Christmas is giving, not of presents, but rather of yourself. Be it a smile at a complete stranger or a kind word to someone who looks like they need it.
Christmas is love... unconditional love, with no expectation of anything in return.
It is truly good will to all men, regardless of creed or color, race, or ethnic origin, status or station.
Christmas is hope... hope for peace, hope for understanding, hope for acceptance, hope for the future.
Christmas is mindfulness - a time to remember to take a moment to think before we say or do, to do with more than our own needs and desires driving our actions, and a time to be mindful of the fact that we can choose to spread joy and happiness just as easily as we can to spread gossip and negativity.

The spirit of Christmas seems to be reserved for such a short time - for many, even simply a week or even a day... It's a spirit that should know no limitation - certainly not of time, or distance. Many argue that if everyday were just like Christmas, there would be nothing special about the day. I argue what a wonderful, wonderful world it would be.

Merry Christmas to not only my very favorite people (and you all know who you are!), but everyone - today and everyday, in every way.

With Love,

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