Reflections of Christmas Passed: As if Nothing Has Happened

Which Way

I’m in a pensive mood. I’m remembering the excitement of preparations and our family party on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was spent sitting by the Christmas tree (sans presents), gazing at the flame of the candle – I was tired to the bone. There is so much to think about.

I smile as I remember how I thought hard about the perfect gifts, wrapping each in carefully selected paper, with matching bows lovingly made. I remember the happy commotion as family arrived, greeted by granddaughters who had spent two night sleeping under our Christmas tree (checking out names on all the packages). There was laughter and cookies and hugs and dishes lovingly made for our dinner. The long table was set with red cloths and candles, Santa napkins and oranges in a crystal bowl. And the number of presents grew as people placed theirs under the tree. Children begged to open presents while the elders teased about needing a nap first.

Christmas Past

Today, on 26 December, I listen to Christmas carols, religious and sung a capella by well trained voices, and light a candle and the tree. I’m not ready to take down the ornaments. They are dear friends. Some are primitive ornaments made by the little fingers of children who later stood with bated breath while I opened them to oohs and aahs and said how very beautiful they are. These paper ornaments are hanging near the more expensive hand blown and crystal ornaments given by grown children and friends. I am not ready to pack away the ornaments I made in my handicraft days and those that remind me of trips to foreign places – both near and far. Each year it becomes harder to pack away those ornaments that are reminiscent of those that hung on trees of parents and grandparents, and those that were made by friends, who have all now passed. The tree brings me great joy, as do the wreaths and candles that decorate my house. I want to believe they have made our guests feel welcomed and special.

But I keep coming back to the meaning of Christmas. My daughter Sharon only puts out an advent wreath and manger because she doesn’t need all those other decorations. She carries the promise, in her heart and mind, of the salvation that is begun through the Christmas message. She has told me several times how frustrated she is that Advent does not seem to be a part of the Christmas story – the anticipation and waiting to observe once again if the promise will be fulfilled. She teases me about my decorations, but concedes they are tastefully done. I tell her that I do it all out of the meaning that is engraved in my heart – they are rituals of love that overflows because of this miraculous birth.

A family member, now deceased, used to want Christmas decorations put away right after Christmas and declared that it was as if nothing had happened. When we celebrate a religious event that happened so many years, do we want our world unchanged after the wrapping paper is burned and the tree put away. I want to be a different person, a new and improved person, every time I remember and celebrate this sacred event through these activities. What does it mean to me this year?

I’ve been thinking what this birth of Jesus means to me. This is the Baby God, called Emmanuel, God is With Us. This is the baby who is not only God but was also an ordinary person who walked dusty roads, got tired, cried when people died, shared meals with friends; the one who knew the pain of not being accepted or understood. He got his hands dirty and had to deal with the muddy relationships of life just like me. Because he was born as an infant – just like me, and experienced the ups and downs of life, just like me, I can believe that he understands. I know he feels my pain and sadness, my joy and happiness. So when he says he loves me just as I am, I know I can believe him. If he says I am lovable, then I can accept and feel the healing love of the human people who know me as I am. There is healing taking place because of remembering this birth this year.

Of course there is more to this story but it will have to wait until Easter.

 

 

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16 Comments »

  1. We don`t put away our decorations here in Ireland until January 6th-Little Christmas or Women`s Christmas, as it is known here. No matter to what degree one celebrates the religious aspect of this time, with the New Year and Solstice, it marks a time of renewal and reflection and hopefully, an improvement in all of us as we move forward, reinvigorated by this restful, reflective time.

    Or just plain fat from eating too darned much! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Love your pics. As always!

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  2. I have a friend who took all of her decorations down today (Dec. 26). That’s so sad to me. We leave ours up through the Twelve Days of Christmas, extending the season, or setting it right depending on one’s point of view. In my husband’s German family, the tree was not put up nor was the house decorated until Christmas Eve, and the 12 days were celebrated as the Christmas season, as opposed to the modern version of decorating the day after Thanksgiving. I think I like the old way the best.

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  3. What a lovely piece, This year has been slightly different, we stopped doing the christmas meal for 16+ guests 3 years ago once my son and his family moved to Wales, we miss all four of them especially the 2 girls, but we still brought down the big tree and 4 boxes of decorations and do a swap, the normal stuff is packed away, the Christmas stuff is put out, takes a whole day, then a day for the outside lights.
    This year, we bought a 24inch tress little decorations to go on it, no swap of ornaments, no outdoor lights. We still swapped gifts, we still Skyped with the gรฌrls watched them open their gifts we still had lunch for two and we still รจnjoyed it, we listened to carols, enjoyed the day.
    Thinking yesterday, we spend hours putting up decorations, spending money on lights and all the additional things to glow in the garden, it doesn’t make no difference to the day, its still Christmas, its still the birth of Christ, we still enjoyed the day and each others company.
    So next year, the small tree and our faith is just fine by me, Hope yours went just fine

    Pete

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  4. I agree. We are too busy to appreciate the significance of Christmas. I tried to remember how it used to be when I was a child. The church celebration of the birth of Christ was central to our holiday celebrations. Not so much now. And that’s sad, but Christmas is about reflection and sharing too. It is precisely what each of us makes of it. Happy New Year, Pat. This is going to be a good year, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Hi Pat ๐Ÿ™‚
    I still have everything up. I will put the leg lamp, tree & the Christmas decorations away before I go back to work next Thursday. But – I will leave the nativity up until the day of the 3 kings.
    {Hugs}

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    • Nice tradition, RoSy. I will take ours down before we leave for the south. Coming home to Christmas decorations at Easter doesn’t excite me. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  6. We celebrated Christmas at Thanksgiving with our children, but I did not get the inside decorated, just a wreath on the door and lights outside. But giving gifts to the kids brought just as much joy as when the house was just right.
    So we did not put up the tree this year, We just got out one box of decorations and set them up in the living room. It was a change of pace that I enjoyed. I focused more on my Savior’s birth and the events surrounding it this year.
    When we get the ornaments out sometime in the future, I will take time to remember the giver – as you spoke about in your post. God has blessed us with many wonderful people in our lives (including you).
    My kids do not appreciate the variety of ornaments collected over the years – I feel sad they are missing some of the good memories.

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    • It seems when I have my focus on the right place it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do. And as I am getting older it seems even more important to be flexible and grounded. Thanks for your comment that helped me clarify my thinking. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. I think advent is a very big part of the story here in Norway, no matter how religious one is. And we’re in no hurry to take down the decorations, we usually wait a couple of days into January. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wish you all the best for the new year ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. A lovely post, Pat…I wish I had read it at Christmas. Like you I have quite the ornament collection with lot of associated memories (your tree picture is beautiful by the way). This year I was unable to put up my big tree with all my precious ornaments (they are in storage), so I had difficulty. But…memories are always available and so are thoughts of the real meaning of Christmas.

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    • There were a couple of years where the ornaments didn’t get up, and when I finally got them out it was so much fun. Hopefully you will be in a position to use them next year. I, too, work at maintaining the wonderful memories. I think one of the benefits of aging is the accruing of experiences and memories. ๐Ÿ™‚

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