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Christmas has always been special to me. It is the one time of year I feel the world is exactly as it should be. All the holiday cheer and the good tidings in the air make me an unapologetic believer in the magic of Christmas. However, somewhere along the line, I forgot about the true spirit of Christmas and bought into the materialistic perversion that Christmas has become.
I long for Christmas past on the island of Jamaica with my great grandmother. Even though we had no presents, no Santa, no tree or trimmings, we always celebrated Christmas with abandon. I remember waking up on Christmas morning to the hustle and bustle of my mom and great grandma cooking. I dare not enter the kitchen to peek at what they were making. My great grandma was notorious for popping you on the hand with a wooden spoon if you checked her pots before she was done cooking.
All the doors in the house would be open to let a breeze pass through, but the warmth from the stove still clung to the air. My great grandma would hum a hymn and every now and then would just let out a hearty laugh straight from her belly.
Dinner was always the main event for me. All my aunts, uncles, grandma, and great grandma would gather outside picnic style and eat until we were well beyond discomfort. I loved listening to my aunts and uncles reminisce about being kids and all the funny antics they got into. My grandma would share stories of family members long gone. I loved these storytelling moments because since we had no family photos, these stories were how we kept their memories alive.
Then the real fun began. We would play games, sing songs, dance, and most importantly…laugh. We would carry on like this well into the night before everyone contently wandered off to bed. No gifts were exchanged, but we still felt blessed.
This is a far cry from the chaos the holidays represent for me today. I spend the days leading up to Christmas agonizing about making the tree look just so, planning the perfect Christmas dinner menu, and finding that obscure toy my son must have since he saw it on a commercial on Disney Junior. Add to the mix all the gingerbread and Christmas ornament crafts on Pinterest that I must do with the kids because it is one of twenty four activities on our advent calendar.
Then of course there are the family photos that we have to take so we can make personalized Christmas cards. That alone is an ordeal in itself. My daughter never wants the dress I pick for her and prefers her pink, sparkly princess dress with the hole in the armpit. We can’t ever get everyone to look at the camera at the same time and for some reason my kids choose this particular time to give the creepiest smiles. After all that, I am left to agonize over whether the cards should say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.
I get myself all worked up trying to give my family the ideal Christmas when the truth of the matter is the trimmings and the gifts aren’t what the holidays are about. At least not for me. Yes I want to see my children’s face light up on Christmas morning. But not because they got a new gadget or toy. I want them to light up because they are with family and are able to appreciate the bit of peace on Earth we have been able to provide them with. I want them to squeal with joy not because Santa stuffed their stockings with goodies but because they understand how truly blessed they are that they can’t help but shout with glee.
This year my goal is to add meaning back into how we celebrate Christmas. The first thing I’m going to do is ditch the presents…KIDDING!! Could you imagine? No, this Christmas instead of focusing on Santa and the gifts he brings, I’m going to focus on sharing more stories of my great grandmother and all the gifts she passed on to her family. Some of you are probably wondering, what about Jesus? Well, if you knew my great grandmother you would know that any story about her inherently comes with a lesson on faith AND Jesus. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.
How do you add meaning to your holiday celebrations?
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