The dreamlike version of Christmas that I carry around in my head remains unfulfilled. You know, the one where all the family is together and the children are all happily playing and singing in perfect harmony. Everyone is healthy and prosperous, charity and goodwill are abundant, and there are no harsh words, hurt feelings or resentments. The house is resplendent and there is a gentle snow falling in the garden as we share stories beside the fireplace. We tuck into bed on Christmas Eve knowing that Santa (or Jesus) will fulfill all our wishes. The perfect Hallmark Christmas!
Instead we have The Messy Christmas. The “not feeling well enough to enjoy it” Christmas. The Hurried Christmas. The Anxious Christmas. The “not everything I’d hoped for” Christmas. Regular Christmas.
That first Christmas, the one we should be celebrating, wasn’t perfect. Childbirth is messy. It was surely hurried and anxious. And no doubt probably not what Mary and Joseph had hoped for – an arduous journey to Bethlehem and birth in a stable.
So I thank God for our Regular Christmas. The one where we do our best in spite of not feeling our best. The one where the kids are a little too excited and someone cries or pouts (even though the offender KNOWS that Santa is watching). The one where a gift is forgotten or a casserole in burned but we somehow manage. The one where we’re as TOGETHER as we can be and we carry the rest of our loved ones in our hearts.
I suppose our Regular Christmas is my Perfect Christmas after all. Last night, my usually “stand-offish” two year-old granddaughter Ainsley, without being prompted, ran up and jumped in my arms with a big hug and a kiss. My seven year-old granddaughter Anna told me that she was more excited about the gifts that she was giving than the ones she might receive. And then she whispered in my ear to tell me about the VERY SPECIAL PRESENT she had gotten for her Daddy at her school’s Santa Workshop.
Once again my Christmas has been perfected by love. Just like that night in Bethlehem. And angels still bring glad tidings…
My wife and I got married young – very young. And there were folks back then who thought that our marriage wouldn’t last. They were wrong. We’ve been together for nearly 40 years; through good times and bad. And I expect we will be together forever. And forever is a long, long time…
I sometimes hear people say “nothing lasts forever” but I challenge that statement. Here’s a list of some things that last forever (in no particular order):
- My life with Debbie
- Memories (good and bad ones)
- Words (good and bad ones)
- The way that “home” makes you feel
- “I Love Lucy” reruns
- The line at the DMV
- My to-do list (it just keeps getting longer)
So while there is a lot in our world today that is disposable, some things do remain forever. I would like to think that I still have a lot of time left on this Earth but even if I don’t, I believe that a part of me will live on. I can see it in the love that my children and grandchildren share. When you’re young, forever seems like – well forever, but as I get older forever seems achievable. Immortality isn’t about keeping this body alive. Instead it’s about keeping my spirit alive in the memories of those with whom I have been blessed to share this life.
I remind myself daily that my “forever moments” are often little things that seem insignificant at the time but stay with me. A favorite song; a moonlit night; the smell of a garden in bloom; the taste of homemade jam; holding a hand; a kiss on the cheek; a sleepy-eyed smile; a hearty laugh; a warm embrace; a pat on the back; a tear-stained face; a soothing voice – these will last forever.
Dynasties come and go. Civilizations crumble. Empires collapse.
Loves lasts forever.
This week our dear friends Jeanne and Bob became grandparents for the first time. Their joy – Oliver a healthy baby boy! My school chum Cecilia was also recently blessed with grandson James. Grandsons are God’s assurance that he hasn’t given up on this messy, wonderful world which we inhabit.
Of course nothing is sweeter than a newborn, especially your own grandson. It’s another chance. A new hope. A future. A legacy. So much expectation placed on such tiny shoulders. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. No one else will ever fill that special place in your heart that only he can hold.
As much as we need our grandsons, I believe that they need us, too. We grandparents are the ones who can listen to them, mend their broken spirits, and reassure them that no problem is too big to fix or no disappointment worth their sweet tears. Everything will be alright – with a cookie, a hug, a wiped tear and a kiss. They are perfect in our eyes – and that’s as it should be. Our love for them is unconditional. We may place all our hopes and dreams upon our sons (and daughters) but our grandsons have met our every goal just by smiling at us or speaking our name or holding our hand. I like to think that the way I love my grandson is the way that God loves me – no strings attached.
So Jeanne and Bob and Cecilia and all of you that have grandsons, go grab your boys and give them a squeeze and remind them that you will love them even on their worst days. And that you will always be there to cheer them on; sing their praises; wave their flag; and love them; until your dying day.
All grandsons really need to do is accept our love. When it is reciprocated is when we get a tiny glimpse of heaven. And that’s as it should be…
Here’s a video of my sweet Noah – http://youtu.be/TyD1ZbaYMQc