Some years Christmas seems to come to slowly – I’d think most of these years would be when we were younger. Those presents taunting us under the Christmas tree, bulging stockings over the grate, and plates of Christmas goodies we weren’t allowed to touch until after dinner. But inevitably, it would come and we’d bury ourselves in holiday effluvia…only to look confusedly around the next day and say “it’s over?”
Some years Christmas comes just on time. You have the perfect amount of Christmas spirit, despite having gone to the mall an obscene number of times during peak shopping hours, or having heard “Winter Wonderland” enough times in enough variations to lose your mind. Last year was one of those years for us. Despite everything, we managed to have a joyous Christmas until – Christmas Day – we all dissolved into squabble and hurt feelings. No one is perfect.
This year, Christmas seems to have already passed. Part of it spawns from being surrounded by Christmas every Sunday since August as we practiced for the play. I’ve felt a bit resentful – we’ve had to tack Christmas in here and there. In between play practice and work and Doxa, we found 30 minutes here and there (mostly late at night, in a state of pure exhaustion) to go out and buy a Christmas tree, then a few days later string it with lights, and then a few more days after that – hang some ornaments on it. We decorated the rest of the house earlier in the month, mostly so it would be done in time for husband’s family as they came into town – not out of any overflow of Christmas joy. All of our gifts were purchased in less than a week – both online and in the mall. We braved both Costco during the holidays, as well as the bigger box stores like Best Buy and Target, and even – the mall. The name of which practically becomes a curse word in our home during the month of December.
I suppose the strongest sense I have this year is that Christmas is so much in flux. Some of this is from simply being a young married couple with no children and therefore still expected to move back and forth between several Christmas celebration locations. The rest of my siblings are unmarried and still wanting the same Christmas traditions every year. It took ages for my side of the family to decide when to celebrate Christmas with us – since we’re with husband’s side of the family on Christmas Day this year. Eventually, we received less than 48 hours notice to be at my parent’s house with Christmas gifts wrapped and ready. The weather has not been able to settle on one theme in weeks. One day it will be 19 degrees and snowing, the next it will be 50. For Christmas here in Seattle area, we’re predicted 46 for tomorrow. Somehow, that just seems…strange, to me.
However fast Christmas seems to come – the fact is, it is still there. And while the way and place we celebrate it may change, one of the greatest parts of Christmas is that its source never changes. It doesn’t matter if we have Christmas spirit, or all of our decorations are up, whether it’s 18 or 80 degrees outside.
Even if we’ve heard that stupid Chipmunk songs 1,000 times and the gingerbread men are on fire in the oven. The season is still one of peace and rejoicing, whether we feel like it is or not. We can choose to do this just as much in a motel as we can at grandma’s. No matter what pressures we feel. For all of this noise, we can remember Christmas is not about us, nor our children, nor our families and friends, nor the government or the economy. It’s about a baby. And a God so awesome He would pull on the robes of humanity to reach us.
Which is what I try to remember every Christmas Eve. Sometimes I feel ready for Christmas and sometimes I don’t. This year happens to be one I have felt tired of Christmas before it’s even here. However, Christmas Eve often changes that. A quiet sort of joy emerges. A whisper that says “rejoice! For tomorrow…” Tomorrow…