The rituals of our lives at Christmas are composed of places, events, family, and friends. This fact can often add a sad aspect during the holiday season because we miss the people and circumstances of our past. That is to say, we remember the lost habits of our lives. Christmas can contribute to the realization of the loss of loved ones and a recognition of our own mortality. Each passing year, we are reminded that time marches forward – whether we like it or not. Some of the people we love are no longer here to share Christmas blessings with us, but their spirit reaches out to us in our memories.
If you are feeling this way this Christmas, as if part of the season is missing – please don’t ignore how you feel. Talk about the people you miss, and about why you miss them, and what makes their memory special.
Our love doesn’t stop when someone dies and is not limited to the time and space where we find ourselves by circumstance. The reality of our short time on earth comes as a surprise to those who have not thought about their own mortality. Having gone to the edge and looked back, I can say with full knowledge that love is the only thing worthy of our time. Jealousy, greed, hatred, and other dark feelings are a curse of this season. Purge yourself of these feelings, and remember the innocent times of your childhood – when everything was new, alive, and the gift of Christmas was not found under a tree, but in the cup of hot cocoa made by your mother.
I remember my mother’s church during a Christmas long ago. I can see it clearly in my minds eye – as if it were yesterday.
I remember, because I was scared. I remember being on a church pew and some strange lady holding my face and saying something to my mother. I also remember the sound of the Wurlitzer organ at the church, and a choir singing songs. Oh, and the choir practices. I remember those as well. Not to mention the cookie exchange in the basement. I remember sampling all of the available cookies and letting my mother know which I liked best.
Do you remember putting out cookies and milk for Santa? I do. I woke up amazed to find that Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk and left me a bicycle under the tree. Wow. How cool was that?
What about the time that your friends at school told you that Santa wasn’t real and you didn’t believe them. Do you remember hiding behind the chair in the living room – trying to catch Santa putting out gifts under the tree? Did you remember thinking about petting his reindeer? I do. I fell asleep behind the chair – and didn’t see or hear Santa.
If you have children, give them memories that they’ll have when they are no longer children. They will think of you in the future as you think upon your own memories today. Let them paint your face. Share the experience of making cookies together. Tell them how beautiful or handsome they look in the ugly Christmas sweater from Aunt Kelli. Laugh with them.
This Holiday Season, give your children the gift of Christmas. Give them the gift of love.