Christmas has left the building….
December 26. Christmas decorations were packed and put away. It sounds weird even reading this. It seems wrong, almost sacrilegious, like I robbed Christmas of all its glory.
In our home, Christmas decorations are coming down as Valentines day paraphernalia is going up. The kids would usually start pressuring me; “Come on, Mom, take it down. I am sick of seeing it. You’re killing it.” But I wasn’t ready. I hated letting go of Christmas.
Sadly I would pack away all the garland and gingerbread scented candles, the nativity scene that was by this time spread all over the house, my son trying to show me that everyone has left the manager and gone home and thus it was time to pack it away. Alas, I would take box after box back to the storage room and with it the joy and bliss that comes with Christmas.
But not this year.
This year I woke on December 26th excited, in a hurry to get it all put away.
I want to scold myself; you shouldn’t have done that. I mean I NEVER have done that. But, a strange thing came over me this Christmas holiday. I had to think about it for a while. Why the rush? Why the packing away baby Jesus and the Wiseman? Why the quick departure of my most favorite time of the year?
I let it percolate…
and chewed on it some more…
and then it hit me. I had hope. Oh, I have had hope before, but this was s different kind of hope. This was one filled with excitement. The hope that perhaps this year would be filled with something more- treasures- joy- surprises.
You see, without realizing it, I had begun to live differently expecting hardship to come. This is hard to understand unless you have been had tough years, not moments, not seasons- YEARS- long grueling struggling years, each one entering like a pounding wave ready to crash upon you, once again. Although I would not have verbalized it this way, I began to live under the assumption that each year would hold a new pain, a new struggle – challenges of providing for my family- challenges of co-parenting with an ex- challenges with my health.
I began to live expecting tragedy to come… not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’.
Reflecting on this, I was hit with the realization that Christmas was my way of clinging to happiness. Christmas held so much joy. Christmas meant outings and ice skating- chocolate and presents- surprises and traditions… and in some ways an escape from the responsibilities and hardships that were often on my mind.
But this year, I didn’t need to cling to that all so tightly. This Christmas was a blast and full of all of that, but I was ready to let it go. What will this year hold? What goodness will I get to experience? Christmas has left the building because I was so EXCITED to get on with my year!!!
I can’t say why the change… Maybe it finally doing a job that energizes me, seeing clients, sitting with others in their pain. I mean, I was made for that. Maybe it was watching my children begin to grow into their own. Feisty as hell, but that makes me love them all the more. Maybe it was falling in love with someone who is the perfect combination of kind and silly, and wrapping my head around the idea that his five children plus my three would make eight. Eight… holy cow. Eight!
Perhaps it was coming to peace with Bob and life and God. I feel more settled now.
You see, dear sisters, it’s not that tragedy will cease to come, but there is an excitement because my eyes see more than that now. I was so focused on the hardship that I had missed the joy that is always there, even in the midst of your worst storm.
If I have learned one thing this year, dear sisters, it’s that the joy is always there- IT ALWAYS IS- we just need to learn to find it, grab hold of it and not let go.