Friday, December 4, 2009

Finding New Wonder in Christmas

As you saw in my last post, childhood Christmases were a delight for me. But here's the thing. For too many years as an adult, I wanted Christmas to be the same as when I was a kid. I wanted the same wonder, the same memory-making moments, the same events. But, as much as I hated to come to this realization, that's not possible. And, really, when it comes down to it, it shouldn't be. Yes, there are traditions I can hold onto, like the family playing Christmas carols as we decorate the tree together. But I also need to build new traditions, the kind my husband, for whom Christmas often was the polar opposite of my childhood holidays, can embrace and enjoy.

I had to rediscover the wonder of Christmas. To find that wonder not in what made it wonderful when I was a kid, but in what makes it wonderful now: the reality of God's unfathomable love for us. It's taken a lot of years, and a lot of trying to shoehorn my poor hubby into what I wanted Christmas to be, to just let go. To accept what is, not long for what used to be. And in that letting go, I've discovered new wonders. LIke watching Don's favorite Christmas movie--Ernest Saves Christmas--every year. Yeah, it's not Miracle on 34th St., but hey, Don loves the thing. And seeing his delight in watching that movie brings me joy.

We've found other new traditions, too. Don helps me put up Christmas decorations and lights after Thanksgiving so we enter Advent with Christmas beauty all around the house outside. Don, Dad, and I go find a tree together, and while we head for a Christmas Tree farm rather than up into the mountains, we still celebrate the event with hot chocolate and donuts. Sure, the donuts are store-bought, but they're yummy. Our tree will wear decorations from the past--including my mom's first two ornaments from her childhood--but those are mixed with ornaments Don and I have made or bought lo, these 30 years we've been married (Dec. 21 is our anniversary).

So here I sit, this first week of December, with Christmas carols playing in the background, looking out at our home so beautifully adorned with silk Poinsettias (no real ones for this doggie household!) and evergreen swags and garlands. And, of course, Don's plastic Christmas snowman. The one he salvaged and fixed years ago, and that he's kept going for all these years.

No, it's not the Christmas I knew as a child. But it's just as much Christmas. And I've found that in simplifying a bit, in not having so many expectations of Don and myself, it's closer than it ever used to be to those childhood days. Because it's no longer about disappointment, but it's about sharing the season together. About celebrating in our way, not my way.

So here's my Christmas challenge to you. Let go of what used to be, what you wish was, what Christmas ought to be. Instead, find joy in simple moments. A cup of cocoa or coffee. The sweet smell of cinnamon as you walk through a store. The sound of laughter as children play in the snow. A quiet moment. Even the chaos of family. Let each of those moments permeate, soaking deep into your spirit. Let Christmas make itself known in new ways. Simple ways. Single moments... that one moment so long ago, on a star-strewn night, The Savior of mankind come to earth. Yes, the angels heralded that birth, but I believe there was a moment--one, simple moment--when those new parents watched in wonder as their tiny newborn opened his little mouth and uttered his first, fierce cry. The voice of God, sent out into the world...and only those two to hear it.

Listen. Watch. Wonder. Christmas is upon us again. Hallelujah!

Let's celebrate!



Jill said...

What a beautiful post! You words make the true Christmas spirit come alive. Thanks for the reminder of what's really important.

Jennifer Lyn King said...

Beautifully said, Karen. Thank you-- it's so true. So as we enjoy our first Christmas away from home in Europe (and our traditional way of celebrating Christmas), we're also learning to find the gift in simple things. Well--and the puppy that came as a Christmas surprise, that doesn't hurt, either. :) Thanks for helping us remember to savor the wonder in it all. Merry Christmas! -Jennifer

Jim Rubart said...

I needed this. Thanks.