"It's the most wonderful time of the year!".... or is it?
Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays and wish we could carry the spirit of the holidays all through the year. I love the glitter of the lights. The magic of Santa. The kind, giving, open-heart spirit to those less fortunate. The Christmas Carols. The Holiday Parties. The tree. The decorations. The yummy baking and candies and food (I think I just gained 15 lbs thinking about it). Even all of the glitter we are still cleaning up in July.
But let's be real. It is not all glitter and magic for everyone. Whether it is trying to meet all of the family demands and expectations. The stress of giving the perfect gifts. Making the perfect meal. Dealing with a crazy family member or the heavy, dark cloud of grief. It simply isn't "The most wonderful time of the year" for everyone. But, can it be? Is it a choice?
I am not going to pretend to know the answer or give a blanket answer that applies to everyone. I will however, share my story.
I was raised in a large family of five kids. Four boys and me. We were what would classify as poor. And we knew it. My father loved Christmas more than anything and it was probably the only time of the year that being poor was not a factor. We always had tons of food. Tons of presents and decorations. And love. We were taught to believe in the spirit of Santa. Not the fictional character, but the spirit of someone so giving and jolly. The magic.
I'm going to break to tell you, as I sit here typing with tears in my eyes, Scotty Mc Creery's "Christmas in Heaven" is playing on Pandora. Something that will be more relevant in a moment.
Anyway, just a little history to tell you I have always loved Christmas. It was the most wonderful time of the year. Then life happened.
Fast Forward to adulthood. You know that part of life we look forward to and then realize we got punked. Yeah, that.
My 20's and 30's were filled with loss. Loss that occurred around the holidays or was highlighted more during those times. I got divorced from my high school love. I lost my grandmother who was my biggest role model. She was a treasure, a gem, a lovely lady. My best friend lost her battle to breast cancer at 35 years old with two young children. A dear friend lost her battle to lung cancer. As did my father. My brother took his life. And wouldn't you just know all of that hit around "the most wonderful time of the year".
My grandmother passed several years before all of the others and was the foundation of my choice to continue the spirit of Christmas. She loved Christmas. And that darn date loaf candy we only pretended to love. She passed in January. So after Christmas, but Christmas music was still occasionally playing. Leaving the hospital several hours after she passed "Where are you Christmas" by Faith Hill started playing on the radio. It was a cold, clear January day with some scattered clouds. I looked up to the sky, as if to say "Ok, I hear you." and there was an eye shaped cloud. That followed me for at least 60 miles. Now call me crazy, but it was that moment in time. That relentless eye in the sky. That song. That told this girl, you cannot lose the spirit of Christmas. A line in the song, "Does that mean Christmas changes too?". Yes, it does. But "Christmas is here if you care. If there is love in your heart and your mind...". "The love of Christmas stays here inside us."
"Stays here inside us." The glorious voice of Faith and grandma's eye in the sky telling me, for me, it was my choice. I didn't have to be sad because of loss. It was ok to still love and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. And you know, that choice helps with the grief, the crazy family expectations and demands, pressures of the perfect gift and even ol crazy Aunt...well, you get it.
And I believe "Christmas in Heaven" is just as glorious, and magical. And I believe our angels want it to be the same for us! Sadness is still there. I still have emotional moments during the holidays but above all, I love the spirit of Christmas and it definitely lives here inside me!
So, my Christmas wish for all of you. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy your life and for Heaven's sake, please enjoy Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.