The Spirit of Now and Then
I'm working on trying to get into the Christmas spirit, whatever that is. We've had our tree up for a couple of weeks and the same goes for the Christmas lights outside. There has been no snow at all around here, so it's looking more like March outside than December. (I'm REALLY okay with that too. Really.)
It seems that you can't force the spirit upon yourself. You can surround yourself with lights and carols and shopping and feasting, but if you're not content, none of that stuff is going to make you happy. You can't buy, eat or see happiness, it just is. I always think that once the lights and the tree is up, then I'll be "in the spirit" and magically change my attitude, and am always a little shocked when it doesn't happen instantly. For me it's like a slow burn that builds up as Christmas gets nearer. I always manage to hit Christmas Zen, but sometimes it's not until as late as Christmas Eve service, which is fitting anyway, if you think about it.
Thinking back to last year at this time and there's a whole different dynamic to our family than last year. I am extremely grateful that we took the trip to Mayo over Christmas to see Rob and his family. As tough as that was, it was still where we needed to be. The older I get, the less it's about stuff and the more it's about people. I look forward to holidays for catching up with family as much as unwrapping gifts. In the past it's been as fun to see the cousins getting along and having fun as it is talking to the adults. The fact that my kids have cousins that they get along so well with is something I'll always be envious of. We were far from our cousins in St. Cloud, so didn't know them like our kids know theirs. It's good for all of them.
So, I encourage you to consider what makes you happy this time of year and pursue it. Remember the loved ones that aren't here to share it with you and be thankful that you had the times with them that you had.
Personally, I'll never forget the annual tradition Rob and I had of going to Midnight Mass at St. Lukes every Christmas Eve. Without fail as we were walking home with hands in pockets, he would catch me off-guard and bump/push me into a snowbank. He would laugh and laugh and I usually ended up laughing too. I cherish the fact that he always made it a point to go to with me, as neither of us much attended mass regularly at the time.
I'll also never forget the first time I went to Midnight Mass with my sister-in-law Jane. Rob and I were being quiet and reverent and as I went to sit down, Jane pinched my butt. Now, I didn't know Jane very well at this point, she was fairly new to the family. So when it happened, I was shocked. Shocked in part because I took Mass so seriously, probably too seriously, and was so surprised by what I now call the Christmas Goose. Of course all three of us started giggling and could barely stop. Knowing Jane like I do now it totally fits her personality. She's so fun-loving and has a great sense of humor. She also knows I take myself too seriously and sometimes need to lighten up. It was a lighthearted moment that endeared me to her spirit forever.
It's these kinds of things that are what Christmas memories are all about. Cherish them. Make new ones. Love the moments. Relive the good ones. Life is too short for humbug.