Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Past

I used to love Christmas.  The pretty houses with colored lights with reflections that sparkled on the snow making streets that most of the year look plain and boring look like a carnival could happen at any moment.  Cutting down a Christmas tree and hauling it in the house.  It's branches and sap filling our home with it's fresh tangy scent.  Talking about the ornaments as we hung them on the branches, eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate.  Dad getting frustrated with the lights and sometimes a little angry.  Kids fighting over who got to hang which ornament. 

I loved thinking of what I could give and buying the best I could.  Making pictures, making ornaments. Trying so hard to make or find something special for those I love.  Desiring to give a gift that would be treasured.

I loved singing carols and listening to them.  Christmas music surrounds you no matter where you go!  From the Nutcracker Suite and Handles Messiah to Joy to the World and yes, even Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, I loved it. 

At school I remember anticipating the Christmas story they would play over the intercom, bit by bit each morning for the weeks leading up to Christmas break.  The Christmas story, Jesus birth story came to life for me as I listened to the story played out in a radio theater style. 

Somewhere in the growing up though something began to drain away.  I began to notice things about Christmas.  Like the disappointment in a gift given just to say a gift had been given.  Something that didn't suit me and showed that the person who I thought knew me, really didn't.  A gift that was almost what I wanted and fit the description of what was asked for but missed the mark by being a cheaper version than hoped for, or just wrong  by color or brand because that version was less expensive.  Almost what was asked for, but not quite.  Sometimes leaving me with the feeling that I'm almost worth it, but not quite. 

I noticed that the family I looked forward to spending time around sometimes didn't like being around each other. And sometimes I didn't want to be around them.  Yet I loved it still.

Christmas eve, years and years of Christmas Eve together with the Wheats and Grandma Burks.  Delicious foods to fill our stomachs, followed by hours of playing with cousins and the endless waiting for SIX O'CLOCK, the present hour!  Listening to Luke 2 as my dad read the Christmas story out in his deep pastor voice.  "And it came to pass in those days. . . ."  Gifts opened and treasured.  Books to read! Gum! Chocolates!  A china doll, a favorite perfume! Watching others open their gifts and watching their eyes light up with pleasure.  So many happy memories. I honestly thought they would last forever. Kid's do think that.

But they don't.  Kids grow into adults and move away.  Traditions turn into treasured memories.

I used to love Christmas.

I loved Christmas so much that I chose to have a Christmas wedding.  Christmas trees on either side of the stage, white lights and poinsettia's as decorations.  Green, burgundy and gold were our wedding colors and Christmas decorations were the decorations for the reception hall, the tables covered in pine boughs.  A Christmas dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. was our dinner. I loved Christmas. 

I don't love Christmas anymore.  Shhhhh! Don't say that too loudly!

But it's true.  I don't love it. I'm disenchanted, tired of being hurt.  Tired of being disappointed. I don't know what to do exactly.  Do I even want it back?  What I thought was Christmas wasn't. Not really. 

Do you know that my 11.5 year old only realized this past November that Christmas has the word CHRIST in it?!    I thought she knew.  We've talked about it being a celebration of Christ's birth, not the actual day of course but a celebration of the day regardless of what calendar date he arrived.  We've read Luke 2.  She's been in church her entire life.  She's homeschooled!!  which is supposed to make kids holier. (Total tongue in cheek there and dripping with sarcasm.)  How could she not know?

Perhaps because the focus is not on Christ. No matter what we say, it's just not.  It's on gifts. It's on family. It's on food and fun and none of those things are wrong! Not a single one.  But the holiday (holy day) Christmas (Christ Mass) is no longer a true time of worship.  There are some out there who do worship and a few to whom it is still that, but let's be honest.  Even for believers, followers of Christ, Christmas is no longer truly about Christ.  It's just not.  And our actions, our shopping, our stressing, our bank statement all tell the truth even if we won't. 

To be continued. (maybe)

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