I'm thinking today of Christmas and how blessed I feel to have had such a sweet upbringing with parents who loved and cared for me deeply. Lately, I've been wishing I could snuggle in my bed at the house on the highway and peer out the window, early Christmas morning, while it is still dark and the street light is shining down on the snow covered trees and yard. The air in our room is cold, we don't have heat besides the wood stove downstairs and it hasn't been burning since late last night. My sister, Meg, is just opening the door of my room and whispering to Jenn and I to sneak downstairs and open our stockings. In our PJ's and sock covered feet me, Jenn and Meg slip downstairs, sit close to the tree, blankets wrapped around us, and open our stockings; usually filled with some small things, hair bands and chocolate, a teddy bear and perhaps a necklace and always a large orange at the toe.
We're there for what seems like an hour, and Mum wakes, makes coffee- then Papa wakes up and starts the fire that will burn hot all day long. Then our presents are distributed in no particular order, but we're polite enough to open one at a time around the room. We each get a sweater, and me and Jenn get something really similar. I receive a box of colored pencils and Meg books and a large package of white socks. Jenn receives more clothes and a jewelry box. Papa bought Mum some beautiful, gold earrings and Papa receives recordable tapes and a set of drill bits. The dachsunds get bones: Christmas has begun.
Around eleven our older siblings and their children arrive and more gifts are opened, then we eat: pumpkin pie, turkey and Mum's famous mashed potatoes, and of course Mum's pickled everything and olives and deviled eggs and so many good things. Dee makes a ham. We drink tea and eggnog and play games and some of us kids brave the cold snow and later we watch a movie. Some of the family may stay over for the evening in our rooms or head home or to other Christmas dinners and Aunt Trudy and Mr. Potter arrive too. In the late afternoon, just after we begin dinner, the snow starts falling again, and from the eastern window upstairs, the creek at the back of the property has swollen and is a few feet from the edge of the property.
So, Santa, I'm not a child anymore. That was my childhood Christmas and I miss it terribly. It's different being older, but I'm working on making the holiday real. I'm working on thinking about Christmas differently, realizing that it isn't just about family and presents and making people feel good, but it is most about Jesus. I remember the Christmas eve services, we'd dress up for those, or go to Christmas eve Mass with Dad, those times brought back our focus from our presents to the greatest gift; God gave his son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
So, this Christmas, when the family traditions are different, when Papa isn't here anymore, when my family is across multiple states, cities and countries. This Christmas, when things feel so strange and unlike Christmas, I'm just trying to remember that I've still deeply loved, by God whose son was born in a dirty, dank, animal dung, manger. Born to live a humble life and to die for my life. Santa my Christmas wish for this year: that I will remember, all year round, I am deeply and passionately loved.