Friday, December 18, 2009

Tis the Season

When I was growing up, December was my favorite month of the year. Everything about it was glorious to me. The cold that caused your breath to come out in little white puffs. The homes brilliantly lit with thousands of colorful lights. The boughs of holly and bright red berries decorating doorways and stores and everything. The fact that my birthday falls a few days before Christmas. The wondering and waiting for Christmas morning, the excitement to watch family members open gifts from me and the thrill of opening my own gifts. I loved it all.

Back in those days, I was able to earn my own money baby-sitting, and around this time of year, I spent much of that money on cards and gifts for my friends and family. I started sending out Christmas cards in the sixth grade. Yes, you read that right. Sixth grade. That year I sent them to my closest friends, and probably some cousins and friends who lived in other places. And every year after that, I always had at least a dozen cards that I would send out.

I loved wearing Christmas sweaters and little Santa hats and just red, green and white. I used to have a whole wardrobe just for Christmas.

The music in choir and orchestra--Silver Bells, The Carol of the Bells, Candlelight Carol, Wassail, the Hallelujah Chorus--so many of my favorites we sung and played. One year, when I was in 8th grade, I got to lead my junior high school orchestra at the winter concert in a few pieces. I remember that I wore a white skirt with a red Christmas sweater to conduct. I wanted to stand out. I think most everyone else in the orchestra wore dark colors, but I wore that bright red and white. I think the concert may have been on my birthday, or very close to it.

Fast forward a decade or two.

I haven't really listened to any Christmas music this year.

I don't own any Christmas-specific clothes, just a red sweater or two.

I do still send out Christmas cards, and I love to do that.

My son asked me today why we can't just use rocks to trade for what we need and want instead of money. He said there seemed to be a lot more rocks than money, so we should just use rocks.

Christmas just isn't the delight it used to be for me. We just never seem to have enough time or money to do everything we want with the season. I don't know how to ignore all that and focus on the one thing that really matters, which is Christ. How do I focus only on that and teach my children to focus on that when everywhere around me is talk of the best Christmas deal and Santa Claus and how I HAVE to get my son's teacher a gift and I HAVE to take all my neighbors plates full of goodies and I HAVE to do this and that and everything in between.

And then yesterday I stopped to think. Why is Christmas this necessity? We spent a bare minimum on Christmas this year. Yet, I wonder, that money could probably be much better spent on something more important.

How can I make this season joyful again?

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