Christmastime! My countdown began December 10th on the tail end of a move. Now it’s the 15th and none of the seasonal angst about the holidays has invaded my heart/mind. Perhaps the move distracted me, better yet; maybe I’ve learned how to recreate Christmas so it fits my life style.
A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstone, and we all go through it together. – Garrison Keillor
I’ve learned that the holidays, especially Christmas, are laden with tradition – the grand food display, visiting relatives, gift exchanges, Santa sliding down the chimney. (Have you been naughty or nice?) Usually there’s a nativity scene placed near a beautifully decorated tree.
I’ve also learned that this anticipated joyous season can be emotionally painful for many. I find myself somewhere in between the joy and the pain. Raised in a non-religious home, there was no nativity scene; no mention of the Christ child’s birth. There was only Santa and presents. And little holiday cheer. My mother would lovingly stage Christmas for me and my brothers as my father sat on a stool at the local bar with his buddies.
Fast forward. As parents, my husband and I set about establishing our own traditions, sans the nativity scene/Christ child. We did this happily for over a decade. However, after fourteen years of marriage and parenthood, I left my husband and young children. Thereafter, Christmas held little attraction for me, but being compulsory, I weather the storm.
Forty years later, reunited with my family, we spend a few years working on a new tradition: Christmas dinner at Kelly and Herman’s, my daughter and son-in-law. Some time there’s just the three of us, but more often my other daughter’s and their family show up, as does Herman’s son. While this humble tradition works, I inevitably find myself in a funk on Christmas day, riddled with feelings of failure at not passing on TRADITION.
When I arrived at Kelly and Herman’s last year, despite good, joyful days leading up to Christmas, that stupid funk followed me. I shared my feelings with Kelly. She said, “But, Mom, we’re all together!”
The thunderstorm blew over.
I celebrate this Season of Light from the deepest part of my being. I am not bound by tradition. I am empowered by it to create new versions where appropriate. It is all good! – Rev. Dr. Jim Lockard