The Christmas holidays have come to an end. Looking back, this season has felt somewhat somber. My goal, starting out, was to focus my children's attention less on their own desires and more on the needs of others. I believe it worked. But my efforts in this area changed something in me, too. Beginning with our reading of The Little Match Girl on December 1st, something of the starry-eyed wonderment and magic of Christmas was torn away from me this year. For a couple weeks I almost felt depressed and could not seem to grasp a hold of even a fragment of the "Christmas Spirit." I kept asking myself how I could enjoy a holiday of warmth, cheer, good food, love, gifts given and received. . . when there were so many out there, some even in my own city, suffering emotional, physical, and spiritual need.
The "Chrismas Spirit" did find me, in good time, with Christmas trees, decorations, cookies, and music. . . But something was missing this year. We didn't bake as many cookies, sing as many carols, buy as many presents, or make as many crafts. Yes, something was missing, and I have not yet figured out if it was a pruning from the Master Gardener or negligence on the part of my tired mommy self. In years past, such slackness in our celebrating would have sent me into a tizzy. . .
. . .this year, while I've struggled with a small sense of regret over a few of our "losses," overall there is a feeling of having gained something greater for both myself and my family. We had, to my knowledge, the most peaceful family Christmas ever. I feel that we all (Jason, myself, and the two oldest kids) came together in recognizing the needs of others outside our blessed family. Extended family didn't factor in to our celebrations this year, but we were more than happy to open our home to others looking for someone to share the holiday with. I had to tighten up our Christmas budget to both please my husband and to allow the kids to give to those in need, but I found spectacular deals that still amaze me. And the two oldest lost a little bit of that Christmas magic that makes its way down the chimeny every year, but they were so excited about giving both gifts and time to others that they really didn't care at all.
Christmas may, very well, never be the same in our family again. Santa's magic is slowly fading, gifts are beginning to seem trite and boring, and even Christmas music is failing to capture real Christmas for me at times. But. . .
. . . Christmas may never be the same in our family again. The needs of others are staring at us in bold, itallic letters, we are sensing needs that are more important than another wrapped gift under the tree, and the whole meaning of Christmas is deepening for all of us.