December 24, 2011

Is there another holiday filled with so much expectation and wishes seldom realized or fulfilled? The problem with secular Christmas is that, between the traditions, the seasonal music, and the various movies we’re accustomed to watching, we all too often end up disappointed and disillusioned when we realize the kind of Christmas we have in our minds, hopes, and dreams is just not (or no longer) possible: happy families gathered together around a roaring fire popping with chestnuts, the big tree all lit up, piles of colorful presents all over the place, snow falling outside candle-lit windows. Y’know: the works.

Me? I used to feel that way but no longer: the “holiday season” no longer brings any heightened sense of expectation or anticipation; to me it’s all just another time of year. Don’t feel bad for me, certainly I don’t. Thanksgiving is just a day when I have to do way too much cooking and preparation. Christmas is just a time with way too much frenzied running around and traffic jams. New Year’s is just a time to stay off the roads to avoid all the drunk drivers.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t any pleasures of the senses: the Christmas lights are pretty, the food and drink of the season are pleasant, I enjoy the sounds of Christmas music, and sharing fellowship and a cup of cheer with family and friends (Goodboys and otherwise) is always something to look forward to. But to expect anything beyond that is simply to open yourself up to another year of disappointment and diminished expectation.

My sister-in-law especially suffers this time of year. For whatever reason, she wants it all: the happy family all together, the presents, the joy. Instead, her ex-husband is in jail, she’s separated from her children who are spread across Florida and North Carolina, she can’t afford the kind of gifts she wants to buy, and Christmas greetings are texted from one phone to another. And her story is replicated across thousands upon thousands of families – all setting themselves up for another year of disappointment and diminished expectation.

See, I don’t worry about this kind of stuff anymore. And you know why? Because the real reason for the season: God, Who made Himself manifest in order to be born, live, suffer, die, and rise from the dead never disappoints. His love for us is there 24/7, no matter what. During this time of year He’s always waiting for us to say enough is enough – why contort ourselves into pretzels trying to meet expectations that are completely unrealistic? I’m not saying ditch the decorations, food, presents, lights, and gatherings with family and friends; all I’m saying is to make the true meaning of the season a more and better excuse to keep it simple, appreciate what you have, and thank God for all of the blessings you have, no matter how basic or simple they are.

For our family and extended family especially, this is a tough time of year. My brother Mark’s death casts a shadow across everything, but we still all have so much to be grateful for.

Me? Today I’ll be doing exactly what I don’t want to be doing: running around here and there to ready my sister-in-law for the final move with her rabbits to her new place, getting rabbit supplies, and hitting the supermarket in preparation for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner. Still, there will come a moment when, alone and bathed in lovely window lights and the rest of the house quiet, I’ll think about my family and friends, raise a glass in quiet testament to their love, support, and friendship, and say a quiet prayer to God for the miracle behind what this season is all about.

And I won’t feel the slightest sense of disappointment or unfulfilled wishes the slightest bit.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:36 | Comments (2)
  1. For myself, Christmas is time for me to able to gather friends and family at my table, sharing love and laughter and being grateful for the life I have. Gifts are not so important as the thought behind the giving of the gift. I love the baking and preparing and decorating my house. I do miss y’all a lot and would love to have you both here. Did the local winery tour yesterday, started wine tasting at 11am and came home with trunk full of exquisite wines. KY has some really wonderful wineries along with the best bourbon distilleries in the world. So, lifting a glass or two to you, Tracey and Tammy and sending love and blessings on this Christmas Eve.

    Comment by Jana — December 24, 2011 @ 7:31 am

  2. The same to you, Jana. It’s a little after 11 PM on Christmas Eve. Tracey and Tammy are asleep on the sofa and loveseat, respectively. It’s just me and the rabbits, who are patiently awaiting their kale late-night snack. I’m beyond exhausted after a long day of travel yesterday followed by a day of running around and putting the finishing touches on Tammy’s new apartment – she and the Beastie Boys take up permanent residence on Monday.

    As tired as I am, I can’t sleep.

    So, as promised I have a nitecap and toast the joy I feel having the kind of wonderful family and friends I have. I’ve got the whole backyard lit up with lights and tiki torches, and I can see the neighbors Christmas lights around me.

    We’re grateful for your love and friendship and hope your Christmas and New Years is special.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — December 24, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

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