Friday, December 20, 2013
The Reason for the Season
A darkened room, twinkling lights, music so soft and beautiful I cannot describe, my cat curled beside me on the couch, my dog on the floor at my feet. I am a couple of glasses now into the wine and may have found the peace in my heart that I have lacked in this holiday rush. I sit in my old robe and husband’s socks, fresh from a steamy shower, shower complete with candles, music, and lavender soap. I am remembering to breathe. I have forgotten how to do this in all the holiday bustle. Funny. How does one forget that which keeps her alive? I have forgotten, too, to smile, to love, to treasure. And how, too, can this be? Isn’t this the reason for this “joyous” season?
I am not certain anymore the reason for the season. I could hardly pick up my dinner tonight for the maddening traffic. Cars. Cars everywhere. Does Christmas not come at the same time every year? Why must we always wait until the last minute to select gifts? I’ve SEEN the thought that goes into those last minute gifts. I worked retail during and after college for a bit. I once had a man throw a pencil at me. At what point, I wonder, is it okay to say to oneself, “I am so angry with my life and my situation right now that I am going to throw something at this minimum wage employee, this teenage girl.” One of my students had a customer throw a hot drink at her. Another had a sandwich shoved into her hand. “This is NOT what I ordered.” And all of this "joyous" giving is done in the name of love. Love for the recipient. Love for God.
Keep Christ in Christmas.
How many times have I heard this?
And, yet, I’m pretty sure Christ never maxed out his VISA. I don’t think He would have cared if you bedazzled your bare shoulders with a little holiday sparkle for the company Christmas party or sent engraved cards to all of your friends, whether you brought pumpkin cheesecake or your mom’s traditional cheeseball to the family potluck or opted out of cookie trays for the neighbors for the rest of your life. But we do this in love, right? We do it to spend quality time with family and friends, to focus on that which matters, to keep Christ in Christmas. Why, then, the guilt trips, the alcohol, the “Let’s just get this over with” mentality? Why the tension and stress?
You may say that keeping Christ in Christmas is about prayer and church and feeling blessed. Why, then, midnight mass? I mean, I know why. But no amount of Jesus in my heart was worth keeping four babies awake or waking them up to celebrate His birth. After playing Santa, coordinating family visits out of town, licking close to a hundred Christmas envelopes, and baking insane amounts of sugar cookies, gingersnaps, and Mexican wedding cakes, there was not a chance in HELL I would have four children in their holiday best at the stroke of midnight. Did this make me less a Christian? Was I not keeping Christ, then, in Christmas?
I preach constantly simplicity, stress management, and self-love. You should know that I am practicing none of that right now. I have complicated my life needlessly to the point of allowing others to take control. I am not very fond of the person I see when I catch a glimpse at myself in the glass. Would Christ, I wonder, want me to feel as defeated as I do? Would He want me to be so at odds with myself, falling apart as I am? I have had soul crushing meltdowns lately in the middle of my kitchen, at the coffee shop, in my car, on the phone with a friend. No parent wants to see his child struggle.
Keep Christ in Christmas.
If I remember my lessons correctly, Christ is about love. He is not about fruitcakes or gifts with purchase or stockings or Secret Santa. Love is not purchased. It is not wrapped. It is not scheduled or decorated or sent. It is me enveloping you in a light that energizes you and warms you and gives you strength. You cannot send that by UPS. You cannot find it in a pew. Love is in the heart. It is only in the heart.