I’m sitting here on an early Christmas morning counting my blessings, feeling loved and sending love and allowing my mind to take me back to memories and times past that fill my heart with hope.
Today we will welcome and host my wife’s family for what promises to be great food, great company and great joy. We are fortunate to have some young children in our family and I do enjoy their excitement and their pure expectation of the Holiday. Commercialization or not there is something electric about children and Christmas.
This year we decided again that instead of exchanging gifts that we would adopt a family that needed some extra assistance and love this time of year. Last weekend we delivered a huge pile of gifts and tons of food to a deserving family and the sharing with them and their genuine gratitude and excitement in receiving this gift was awesome to experience. If you can do this in the future you should. It was the best thing I can remember doing in quite some time.
I have to be honest and tell you that I have struggled with exactly what I wanted to write today. Christmas has taken on a different meaning to me since we lost my Mother on December 15, 1995. Losing her that close to that Holiday; THE Holiday that she owned, was difficult. I remember the first Christmas without her and because we had young children that did help get me through it, but my remembrance of that Christmas is murky at best. Since that Christmas I guess some of it is just a simple act of maturing and my children growing, and maybe some of it is the realization that what had been the same since I was able to remember anything, Christmas with Mom was the same even when I turned 20, 30, and lastly 34.
Some things just didn’t happen after that. Some traditions were painful without her while others were uniquely her and could not be duplicated. It’s just a truth.
So I finally decided that what I want to share with you is what this Holiday means to me personally and why I consider Christmas to be the most important day of the year to me.
I am a Christian. I believe in God and I believe that Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem and found a barn and a manger and as a result of the culmination of the Immaculate Conception, Jesus Christ was born, Wise Men assembled, gifts were imparted and a journey began that leads the Christian world to the Easter miracle. I do believe in all of that.
I do understand that some people don’t, and that’s their right, but I am not asking any of them to accept my premise because their belief doesn’t effect my belief in any way. I believe that although Christmas has always been too commercial and that not enough Christ is left in Christmas there are still millions upon millions of people the world over that believe as I do.
I think if City Hall wants to put a nativity scene up in front of their building that they should be able to do so without recrimination. I also know that modern day thought and challenges has made Christmas much less beautiful and honest and that is just sad. But I also know that I don’t need a Holiday display to know what my heart tells me to be right. I do wish that it was 1966 and none of this was an issue, but it is. But again, I don’t need for everyone to agree on Christmas to have what I know Christmas to be.
Christmas lives in our hearts. The miracle of Christ’s birth and the struggle that Mary and Joseph endured to bring Christ to the world is an amazing and inspirational story. I remember my Mom telling me the story of how Christmas came to be and I also remember her gifted laughter when I sang Happy Birthday to Jesus for the first time and asking why the song Happy Birthday wasn’t considered a Christmas song. I remember lots of things about Christmas that have nothing to do with a present. The real gift of Christmas for me for the past 17 years are the memories of my Mother.
My Christmas requires little of anything but faith, belief and memory. I love my family; my in-laws, my sisters and Dad and step-Mother, the family my wife and I created and the many friends I am blessed to have. Because Christ was born I have all those things. Because Christ was born the gift of life, happiness, renewal, choice, forgiveness, love and joy are possible. Because of Christ and his unconditional love I believe that anything is possible and because of Christ I have through the many lessons He provided us been able to see a world differently and to heal and walk in truth and understanding.
The greatest gift I have ever been given is the wisdom imparted onto me by a loving Mother who without preaching shared her love of Christ with her family and held onto the idea that what God grows is perfect. And we are what God grows.
Christmas is many things to many people and that is exactly OK. If it has to be something you can physically feel, let it be. If Christmas has to involve Midnight Mass, let it be. If Christmas has to be a certain dish to pass, let it be. If Christmas has to be about spending money, let it be. If Christmas has to be about a particular tradition, let it be. And if you can’t believe in Christmas for whatever reason, let it be.
I love my idea of what Christmas is. It is simple and personal. My Christmas requires little of me or from me. Because of my perspective of what Christmas is I don’t have to take exception with the way others celebrate or the traditions they choose because Christmas never requires me to judge. I believe if we could all learn to accept that Christmas is different things to different people we would all be better off, but even that matters not to me because I have what I want or need from Christmas and for me that is perfect.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas in whatever way you define it. It is my prayer for all of you that your Christmas manifests itself the way you need it to but please remember that if it doesn’t that should not take away the fact that Christ was born, that the celebration of His birth and the sacrifices He made for all of us is the gift that keeps on giving. If you can find a way to that kind of thinking the pressure and expectations of His birthday may create a less stressful path to your happiness over the next few days.
I simply love Jesus and during this Holiday I will get exactly what I expect: family, love, joy and a renewal and reminder of Christ. Of course there will always be that part of me that wants the people I have lost over the years to be with me, but that is not realistic so I embrace the memories and I am grateful for them as well. My Christmas wish is easily granted every year and to me that is the Christmas miracle we all want.