My mother used to say that she had to make a big deal about certain things or nobody would know that they were important. Christmas was her favorite time of year and she made a HUGE deal over it. It would really drive us crazy. I remember once as a girl crying after gifts and dinner. I remember thinking that I had everything my little heart could have desired and more. And still I felt empty. I remember asking God, through sobs and tears, if this meant that I was a selfish little girl who only wanted more. Christmas was over and I was disappointed. Weeks of hard work and anticipation were used up in mere hours and the only thing to show for them were scraps of wrapping paper on the floor and cold leftovers. Disheartening indeed.
Was I selfish? No. I would have given up any number of toys (though not the bike or the books "Heidi" and "Little Women" to have had a less 'perfect' Christmas and a more prayerful one.
So what do I think of Christmas now? How do I try to celebrate it with my children?I think it should be magical. I want to provide them with a joyous season filled with advent wreaths, cookie baking, and yes, gifts. I want to dance with them while listening to (and singing) Christmas carols in a flour-coated kitchen. I want to see the sheer anticipation in their eyes as they tear open a gift and play with the bow instead of the toy.
Am I going for a 'picture perfect' Christmas like my mother did? I don't even have the energy to try. But I do make a big deal about it. Because it's important.
I don't mind the hard work. I don't mind cleaning the kitchen several times in one day because of a baking frenzy. (I love baking!) I don't mind working alone in a kitchen for hours to provide a feast for my extended family. Do I care that some people do nothing and just show up for the food? Ladies, I don't even care if they show up late. It's not about me. They'll just have to eat cold food. But I DO care when people start complaining.
My husband asked if, with all of the hard work I did, I ever had the chance to think of the 'true meaning' of Christmas. I told him YES! I thanked God for the gifts of my children while I was wrapping their gifts. I praised God as I was preparing a huge meal because not only was the family together but we had plenty of food to eat. I did not take up a labor that I could not do joyously. Would I work so hard for so little recognition normally? Absolutely not. But for our Lord's birthday? How could I not celebrate?
Some things are important. We have to make a big deal about them. The wise men left their homes and followed a star. The shepherds left their sheep defenseless because they heard the angels rejoicing. We are the late-comers. We have had everything revealed to us. We know that Jesus was born for our redemption. Do you honestly think that I am going to let something so trivial as 'propriety' or a 'picture perfect Christmas' get in the way of my celebrating? Were I to hear angels proclaiming the coming of our Lord I would grab my children and dance in the streets. Until then I will continue to celebrate Christmas as if it were the dress rehearsal for the heavenly banquet.
Have a blessed Christmas season!