December 11, 2012

confessions of a recovering scrooge...

I used to like Christmas.

I used to love Christmas.

As a child, I never slept much on Christmas Eve.  I'd sneak up to the living room after the family had gone to bed, and I would sit in front of the tree (which we left the lights on all night, just that night), and sing all about that baby in a manager.

Christmas was magical, and filled with fun times, special visits, and of course, presents.

Even as I got older, I still had a hard time sleeping.  I still loved the twinkle of lights and the baking and wrapping that went on.

And then, the magic was shattered.

It happened in stages, but shattered is shattered.

From suddenly having a broken home (and trust me, getting "two" Christmas' is not nearly as fun as it sounds, when there is the tension of having to split time and affections, not to mention wanting to have gifts for your siblings at both places), and then having parents out of state who still wanted to do Christmas together, to the final straw of working retail.  It shattered.

And like Humpty Dumpty, all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put my love of Christmas together again.

With the retail world pushing Christmas earlier and earlier, it's no real surprize that it pushed me over the edge.  They started playing Christmas music in October.  Thanksgiving barely got a nod.  And with such overkill, can you blame a girl for suddenly becoming both Scrooge AND the Grinch?  I don't blame me one bit.

But I left the retail world in 2010.  I spent that first Thanksgiving blissfully NOT shopping.  And I didn't do a lick of decorating for Christmas.  Sure, I still bought gifts, and wrapped them up nice.  But I wasn't going to sing a Christmas song until the very day.  The next year I was a bit better, allowing the music for a week ahead of time, but no more.

Trust me, when you've heard every bad version of The Christmas Song, you are ready to start setting heads to rolling!

But this year I felt like I needed Christmas.  I didn't need it in October or even November, but my heart needs Christmas now.  What I need most is not the presents or the trees, the lights or the music.  What I need is the reason we celebrate.  I need Jesus.

I've had a hard year--and trust me, I know it's not the hardest year of the people I know, I'm not special in this regard.  But it's been rough.  This month is beating me up pretty bad between the overtime and the grief, and the general feeling of suffocating that I get from my life these days.

So I need Christmas.  I need to remember that in a dirty stable halfway around the world, many years ago, God decided to come to earth.  He came to walk among us, to be with us.  To touch us and love us and weep with us and for us.

I need that Jesus.

So this year, when the thing at the top of my list is never going to happen this side of heaven, I am trying to reconnect with Christmas.  I am trying to remember that the presents under my tree (the tree I dug out of storage and actually decorated) represent the gift God gave us.  I'm trying to remember that the words behind the songs mean something.  And I'm trying not to let the sadness that I feel for both myself and my friends who are struggling with life and all it can throw at us get me down.

I need Christmas.  I need to sit by my tree and sing songs late into the night.  I need to know that somewhere in all this mess, there is joy.

Maybe next year I'll tackle going to the mall...