I have a picture in my head of how things should be. Always. It’s like I play side by side “life — how it is” and “life— how it should be.” This is the cause of almost all of my frustration. My therapist told me this is about control. What does she know?
As most of us do, I have this image of Christmas that I strive to reproduce year after year. Mine comes from the mid 1970s. My perfect Christmas was when I was about nine years old. My family was together, we spent time in the city with Grandma & Grandpa Malone and out in the country with the Derricks. There were sweet treats, Grandpa’s fudge, Grandma’s maple bars and cinnamon rolls. The presents were perfect, the tree was perfect, I think it snowed. That’s how I remember it anyway.
I bet if I asked my parents, they would say they worried about the money. There may have been family tension. Someone fought… but that isn’t how I remember it. All the rough edges smooth out over time and blur into this soft glow. The older I get, I realize there are many different kinds of Christmas to celebrate.
Our first Christmas together as a young couple, when I made him get the tree on the day after thanksgiving and it was dead by Christmas eve. How he went to the tree place and they gave us a new one for free and we pulled out the old one and redecorated it in time for our toddler’s Christmas delight.
The Christmas we flew home to Oregon, with a baby and a toddler. How we squeezed into Grandma Malone’s house. Family jumbled together, full of life and fun. We laughed at the tree with the top cut off. We sang Christmas carols with the whole family in front of the fire… That’s a memory best preserved without sound.
The Christmas when Keith was out of work and our three littles were blessed beyond measure by the generosity of family and friends. How we sat on Christmas Eve in awe of His provision, and cried as the snow fell on a perfect holiday.
The Christmas Santa came in the fire truck to fill our stockings and leave our gifts while we were at midnight service. The joy of sneaking in and hustling up to bed hoping Santa didn’t find out we were out.
Our Christmas’ with the Lyon Family, turned out in our pajamas to celebrate and share life. Hustling six kids, two husbands, a turkey and a ham to the table. How friends became family, and our lives were better for sharing.
A dozen midnight services, to celebrate the new born King. Children bumping and grumbling in the pew with fire in their hands and fear in my heart. I am grateful for the singed hair and wax fingers. For Pastor Alex and Dee’s voices soaring as we sung Silent Night in the candle light.
It is true that there are many beautiful ways to celebrate Christmas. My expectation still explodes like a beacon to distract me from the ordinary and lovely ways we celebrate. My expectation pushes my actual family to the side in search of the perfect one I’ve imagined. I catch myself hustling for perfect, but then I remember. Real works… it works real well.