And so it is Christmas again. Too soon again. Christmas always comes too quickly. How does that happen? We can’t wait for it to be Christmas time each year. And then it comes. And in a flash it is over.
But something is different for me this Christmas eve. For once I am not feeling rushed. There’s no sense of pressure hanging over my head. This is partly because we celebrated a few days ago with my family; or more accurately, we celebrated with the half of my family that still lives in this state. I’m getting used to the fact that the celebrations that included all of the family are no longer to be. I’m getting used to the fact that employers don’t all shut down for the weekend, or on holidays, or even in the evenings. So we celebrated when we could manage to get as many of us together as possible. It’s ok. I’ve learned to appreciate and celebrate the times when we can all be together, even if those times don’t fall during the holidays. Tomorrow we’ll celebrate with Mark’s family; all of them. They are a big family and we will spend a good part of the day with them. It will be an effort, as usual, to get everyone showered, dressed and out of the house on time after our own morning celebration. Tempers might flare and a few impatient words might be said, but we’ll get there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My sense of ease is also due in part to a lack of festivities. Tonight, Mark has to work, so it’s just the kids and me. This will be the first time we’ve just stayed home on Christmas eve and not gone off somewhere else to celebrate. The last couple of years, when my extended family ended the tradition of gathering on Christmas eve, we were invited to celebrate with friends. It was nice to be included, but the kids said they felt like they were intruding on our friends’ family time. We were very welcome there. Just felt slightly out of place. So tonight it’s just us. We’ll eat a nice dinner together. We might bake some more Christmas treats. Maybe we’ll watch some of our favorite Christmas movies. A couple of years ago this would have seemed like not enough. But this time it feels like more than enough. I’m just going to relish this quiet time with my kids who are growing up more quickly than I’d like.
You see, I have begun to realize over the past year that my life is a gift. I have been guilty of not appreciating it though. I was reading a daily reflection this morning and the words for today hit home. “I determine whether or not I’m going to view my experiences through a negative or positive lens. If indeed my perceptions are negative, then it stands to reason my life will feel out of whack, and…I can spend years pouting in my cave. Thank God I don’t have to pout, fuss or complain. I have the option to smile, chuckle or laugh.” *
I have spent years pouting in my cave. But since I started literally counting my blessings in writing this year, my perspective has changed. I’m finding, especially now, during this time of year, that it is so much more clear to me what a gift my life is and how much time I have wasted feeling slighted because I chose to cling to the negative instead of focusing on the positive.
Mark’s longtime coworker, “Rimpy” was recently diagnosed with a type of liver cancer. There is no hope of recovery for Rimpy. In fact he called the guys at work last night. He called to say goodbye. He’ll spend his last days at home, receiving hospice care. Mark said it was the most difficult conversation he’s ever had. Rimpy told him not to be sad. He said he’d see Mark and all the guys on the other side, someday soon. What a bittersweet Christmas this must be for Rimpy’s family, knowing this is the last one they will spend with him.
We don’t ever know what each day will bring. I think most of us operate on the illusion that we have day after day after day to make things right. Maybe we do and maybe we don’t. All I know is that when my last day comes, I want to arrive there knowing that I had embraced all that had been offered to me. I want to have learned full well that what I expect or desire or demand is not necessarily what is to be. But I hope that I will have learned to accept and trust and embrace even those things that don’t seem like gifts, but end up being so, only in disguise. I don’t want to have missed out on one single gift because I failed to recognize the events in my life as roads to happiness. This Christmas, my immediate family is together. My parents, though far away, are healthy and content in their warm surroundings. My husband may be at work this Christmas eve, but he will be with us all day on Christmas day. This Christmas, I realize that my life is abundant.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, my wish for you is that you find your life to be abundant too. Merry Christmas!
*Marilyn Meberg, Choosing the Amusing