Each year, amid the onslaught of Rudolph, White Christmas, nonstop Christmas music starting just a few days after Halloween (Seriously!??), and the shopping, baking, and family, I begin dreaming of the perfect Christmas. Truthfully though, I start thinking and planning it a few days after the last Christmas.
And each year, the "perfect" Christmas both eludes and appears.
I am a self proclaimed Christmas nut. I read Christmas stories in July, start wondering about my Christmas cards in August (although I may not get around to actually making them until early December most years), I look for the holiday magazines starting in September. I start planning and hoping for family to be together. Visions of TV and movie perfect Christmases dancing in my head. And then reality hits.
Things happen each year. Family members can't always make it home. Money doesn't always stretch far enough to pay the bills and the gifts for everyone so I have to become creative in how I handle the presents. This year my mother passed away in August and my husband lost his job in November. Those two were enough to make me not really want to bother with the holiday this year. I have family members however, such as my son and my brother, who look forward to the festivities. So onward I go, making a simple, but good Christmas for those two. I look forward to seeing some family members and calling others. And yet, I allow myself to be swept up in preparations that my my heart isn't much up for. And it makes me grouchy. No matter what, I'm still looking for the perfect Christmas.
But what is the perfect Christmas? Has there ever been one, other than in movies, tv shows or books? Yes. I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. I see it more as a time for fun and togetherness and yes, gifts. But over 2000 years ago a star shone brightly in the sky. In the stillness of the night (although most likely not a night in December) a baby's cry rang out. A woman named Mary, gave birth in a simple manger. The gift that night was not only for her, but for those living then and now and forever, if we choose to accept it. The baby Jesus was born so that he would grow up and teach, and ultimately to give his life as a sacrifice so that we may live eternally. All we need do is accept that gift by hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized, and living the Christian life.
Earlier I said that the perfect life both eludes and appears. Am I crazy? A little. But both are true. You see, no Christmas (or life, for that matter) goes off without a hitch. There are always things that make us stumble. But each Christmas as I look back, I have the perfect Christmas. No matter what is under the tree or on the table, I have loved ones around me. I have some quiet moments to reflect and enjoy. And for those I am thankful.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.