For many of us Christmas carries a lot of baggage. Memories of Christmas, both good and bad, fill our hearts and influence how we celebrate today. Regardless of our beliefs, no other day of the year has the same amount of emotional punch as Christmas. We either find ourselves desperately and maniacally trying to live up to some ideal picture perfect Christmas – think Norman Rockwell, The Waltons (not the Wal-Mart ones), or “It’s A Wonderful Life” or we plunge into depression because we know that our ideal Christmas can never really happen.
Whether Jesus is your Savior or Christmas is just time of goodwill for you, it likely doesn’t diminish the significance of your memories of Christmases past. And the struggle to get past our bad ones or relive our good ones seems to be endless. There’s no shortage of disillusionment, heartache, and sadness in this world; so why not wrap some up for Christmas? My bitterness about a Christmas (long ago) that I didn’t get the gift that I really wanted or the year that someone was unkind to me or the time that I wasn’t invited to a party (or was forced to sit on Santa’s lap) can jusifiy my indignagtion. But holding on to anger, resentment and sorrow from years gone-by just poisons my ability to live joyfully now.
Perhaps this year is the year to let go of grudges or hurt feelings or regrets that overshadow my enjoyment of the holidays. Are my bad Christmas memories really worth all the hard feelings and self-pity? We say “peace on earth and goodwill to all” but often I only want peace and goodwill to me – I think it’s about time that I let go of my selfishness.
Last night my seven year-old granddaughter helped put it all in perspective for me. We attended an Advent Novena at a nearby convent. Standing there in the candle-lit chapel, hearing the sisters begin to sing, Charlise leaned over to me and said, “Pawpaw, I think I’m going to cry.” When I asked why, she said, “Because it’s so beautiful!” And we were wrapped up in that moment – a moment so beautiful it brought us both to tears.
This year the house may not be clean enough and the children may not be well-behaved and the food may not be perfect and the gifts may not delight but Christmas will come anyway. So I’ve decided to sing “Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go!” and get over any disappointments along the way. And I will be merry this Christmas because I have so many blessings for which to be thankful.
This year I already have a happy Christmas memory. An angel named Charlise brought it to me last night!