This Christmas

Photograph: David Hedges/

Christmas was always a big deal for my family. Tree decorating, watching specials together, wrapping presents, driving around town to look at the Christmas lights… so many things we always did together. For me, Christmas is a time of happiness, warmth, love and excitement. My Honey didn’t get the same experience growing up. He remembers fights over decorating, lots of stress… with some good things thrown in, thankfully. But still. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and love.

This Christmas season has been very out of the ordinary, at least for me. Illness and finances have kept us from doing a lot of the things we wanted to do to celebrate Christmas. The tree we bought has very sparse decorations, but it hasn’t mattered. Seeing the cheery green, well-lit tree has been a great source of joy for us. The two year old and I colored Christmas cards for a few people, and then enjoyed coloring a picture of a Yule log to hang on the fridge. We haven’t done any Christmas baking (much to my chagrin). There aren’t any presents under the tree. But those things really don’t matter, not once you stop and really think about them.

Earlier I wanted to feel sorry for myself, because my Christmas plans had totally fallen through. Then I started thinking about all the other people whose Christmas plans were ruined too. The families of the people who were killed in one of the many shootings this year. The parents in Newton, CT who bought their children Christmas presents, only to have their children murdered before they got to open them. What must they be feeling? Then I thought of all the people around the world who are affected by the horrible wars and unrest. What are they and their families feeling tonight? How many of their people have they buried this year? How many people around the world live without homes, clean water, food, or the hope of another year to live? How many families have been torn apart by cancer this year?

My loved ones are safe, warm, and generally healthy. I have food and a place to live. I know that I am loved, and there isn’t anyone trying to kill me. Yeah, I just had the worst case of the flu ever, money is really tight, and everyone can’t be together like I’d hoped for… but at least they’re alive.

This past year has brought about a huge shift in my perspective. This Christmas, my perspective continues to be challenged and changed. Gifts and stuff in general really aren’t that important to me. I want to get the two year old nice things, of course, and there are plenty of things we could all use/want… but being creatively practical really isn’t horrible.  Honestly, I’m happy to invest in good food, good health, and our future as a family rather than invest in more gadgets or pretty things. Christmas is about family and love, and I have both things and will gladly celebrate them however I can.

What are you celebrating, experiencing, and/or learning this Christmas?


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