In 2003, on Christmas Day, my maternal grandmother, and my (middle) namesake Elaine, went to the hospital due to complications from cancer and heart disease. The doctors sent her home, but she went back in a couple of days later. She stayed in the hospital for a month before finally succumbing. That next Christmas was difficult. In addition to her role in my life, she was also a mother, a daughter (my great grandmother is still alive and kicking!), an aunt, a sister, and a friend. She meant so much to so many people, and Christmas 2004 only served to remind us all how much we missed her.
Our family had gone through a few really tough times since then. The years after Grandmom Elaine’s passing really took a toll on us, and the Christmas season, usually full of laughter and fun for us, became a bittersweet time of reminiscing and trying to hold it together. Eventually, the fog lifted. Several new babies in the family helped us to remember that, although she was gone, we were still here. We were reminded of the sweet meaning of Christmas, and the blessing that it meant for us. We started celebrating the season again, and haven’t looked back.
Honestly, Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, the music, the overall energy of society in general just seems so much more peaceful and humane. And yes, I do love me some Christmas cookies! I like shopping (that’s a given), but that’s not what it’s about for me. I don’t expect anyone to buy me presents, but I’m grateful whenever someone thinks about me. I like to give presents, and people seem more receptive to receiving them during the holidays. Christmas is a good opportunity to show appreciation for someone who might otherwise be too modest to accept it.
There are a lot of folks that feel like Christmas is starting too soon. We’re skipping Thanksgiving, and even infringing on Halloween with our ho-ho-holiday. It’s true. Retailers definitely are, and as a Christmas practitioner (?), I will admit that I was ready to jump right in the day after my October birthday. It’s not because I want great deals on toys, though. It’s because the Christmas season brings out the best in lots of people. And you know, sometimes the world just seems so dark, and so hard, and it’s becoming totally acceptable and we’re all becoming totally desensitized to it, and I want light. And happiness. And smiles. And friendly greetings. And giving. And caring. And LOVE.
I know that it seems shopping and excessive consumption are taking over Christmas. I acknowledge the fact that a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ can be difficult* if you aren’t a Believer. I recognize that if you’re going through a rough time financially, personally, or emotionally, all of the “Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!” can feel like a knife being twisted in your gut. I know that. I’ve been there. And in some ways, as I sit today battling this depression that keeps interrupting my life, I’m still there. But, you know…maybe let folks have their holiday spirit. Let them put their trees up before Thanksgiving. Don’t snarl at them when they share that they’re listening to Christmas music. If it isn’t affecting you (besides, obviously, the general annoyingness of it), let Merry People be happy.
All year, we (yes, we, because I do it, too) complain and place judgement and spout off our opinions about what’s right and what’s wrong. Let’s take some time off from that to enjoy this season of goodwill. If you don’t have anything to give anyone, just allowing folks to be happy about what they’re happy about is enough of a gift. You don’t have to go to the company holiday party, don’t have to wear an ugly Christmas sweater, all you have to do is chill. And, hey…at least it’s not Valentine’s Day. Am I right?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
*Difficult may not be the right word. Please know that I’m not trying to be trite. The foundation of my faith is empathy, and I truly do recognize how uncomfortable Christmas may be for you if aren’t a Christian.