Thursday, January 16, 2014

What is Christmas?

I am long overdue with my annual "I hate Christmas" blog, I know.   Here it is, because I'm not sure I can continue forward in 2014 another minute until I do this.

So much has happened to me in 2013, and - I must admit - most of it was bad.  By the time the holiday season rolled around, I was as much in the mood for Christmas as a dog is in the mood for a trip to the vet.  Yes, this was the worst I have ever been.   I procrastinated with my decorations to the point where I thought I was turning into one of those people who does everything on Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed.   When the news of my 10 year old nephew's death came, I just knew that none of those decorations were going up.  And that includes the tree.  We did pull out the stockings - not sure why.  I guess my hubby felt the need to make some sort of gesture.

When we arrived back in Buffalo from my nephew's funeral, I felt like someone had tied a 20 pound weight around my heart.  It's the kind of sadness that sinks into your chest and your bones until every movement, every effort, every thought, is a struggle and is painful.  I couldn't help but wonder what sort of company I would be on Christmas Eve, and would I be able to put on my game face?

Beautifully decorated homes, decorated in all manner of Christmas finery, can make anyone smile just a tiny bit. So, then, I was already feeling better.   But it was a vision in red tulle that began the upward spiral of my spirit.  She danced up to greet me in all of her two year old splendor.  She was in rare form.  I'm guessing that this was her first Christmas of truly comprehending what was going on, and she was clearly loving every minute of it.  Whenever I observe her older brother, he seems to exhibit a patience with her that is really beyond his years.  No small feat.  This young lady is the embodiment of exuberance in everything she does - like the little girl with the little curl.  I'm not saying that they didn't have their terse sibling moments, but by and large, they were the embodiment of Christmas joy.  The youngest player in this story contented himself with being adorable for anyone and everyone who approached him, held him, or merely glanced in his general direction.  I wonder what he thinks when we are all ooo'ing and ahhhing .....  I think that he somehow has learned already, in his infancy, that he can catch more flies with honey than he can with vinegar.   And, believe me - this child seems to have been delivered right from the honeycomb!

This group is rounded out with the older children.  Like mine, their year has been pretty bleak.  There wasn't too much evidence of that on this evening.  It seemed as though they had allowed themselves to let go of their worries and fears for a while.  She was bubbly and enthusiastic.  He exhibited his typical pre-teen male sense of humor, tempered by his enthusiasm for the holiday.  Maybe subconsciously I released that stone on my heart - at least temporarily - because of them.  How often do we say that, as adults, we can sometimes learn things from children?   Like their adaptability, their capacity for forgiveness, their ability to trust, and their ability to immerse themselves in magic, even if it's only for a day or two.

I'm not going to say that I now love all things Christmas, or that next year won't be another challenge.  But, I am happy that I was able to leave the other 11 months of 2013 behind for one evening.  And I am reminded that I really am lucky to have such amazing friends that make it possible for me to do so.  So... perhaps not the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year", but definitely the most wonderful evening of the year.  I'll take it!

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