She takes a deep breath as she slowly creaks her way down to the dark, dusty, cobwebby basement to pull out those tubs and haul them to the living room. The tubs, which are filled to the brim with lights, ornaments, stars, candles, greenery, tinsel, and more. Today is the day it all begins. From decorating to cookie baking to Christmas card writing to craft making to parties to get togethers to shopping to wrapping to bows to gifts upon gifts upon gifts. It will be 26 days till it is all over, and perhaps the Advent calendar that she hangs readily on the kitchen wall is really counting down the days to THAT. It’s all relevant . . . right?
Oh dear, Mama. What a month it will be. But dear Mama, do we remember? Do we remember what it used to be like?
Now it may be a chore to find the tubs in the back of the dusty and dark storage closet, hauling them up to the living room, and trying to piece together the décor in order to make it look somewhat presentable.
But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the excitement of glitter and green and red. It was the joy of lights and flickering candles. It was the act of putting the ornaments on just so and getting Daddy to lift you up to put the star on the top.
Now it may be another task on the list of “to-do”s–bake cookies, write cards, make Christmas crafts.
But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the laughter of baking together, covering each other in flour, making favorite shapes in the dough, and designing with sprinkles and icing. It was the pride in creating your own craft for more Christmas décor or a gift for Grandma. It was the beauty of making something to give and seeing the joy on the recievers’ faces.
Now, it may be more money. Just more and more money.
But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the thrill of finding that perfect gift for that aunt or that grandpa or that friend. It was the fun of picking out a new shiny ornament or a yummy dessert to bring to the big extended family Christmas. It was the happiness in opening a gift meant just for you from your Mommy and Daddy who love you so.
Now, it may be another get-together, just another outing to get ready for. Another place to brave the snowy streets to get to.
But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the sweetness of putting on your favorite red Christmas dress, showing Daddy while you twirled around. It was getting your hair curled and finding the black “church shoes.” It was feeling the excitement fill you as you headed off to the family gathering and reunited with your favorite cousins. It was about being in a room filled with laughter and joy and, most of all, love.
Oh dear Mama, do we forget? Do we forget what it is all about? Our little selves knew it so well and our own little ones still do. It is not meant to be a drag or a duty or another holiday to get through, yet is that how we are choosing to view it?
Oh yes, we are the ones who bring it all together aren’t we? Without us would there BE any decorations or Christmas cards or baking? Dinner would probably be ordered pizza and many gifts may either be forgotten or left unwrapped. We bring a lot of the holiday to the table, and in truth, that can be utterly exhausting and overwhelming.
But what about the joy that it can be? WE are the ones who get to bring the traditions and the beauty of Christmas alive in our homes. WE are the ones who get to carry on what our mamas did for us. Most of all, WE are the ones who get to show our children the true, the very true, meaning behind it all.
Can we do that when we are found “just getting through” til the 26th day? Maybe. But maybe not well.
She blows the dust off the lid of the tub. She opens it up and the first thing she sees is the star. The star that every household has in one way or another. The star that finishes off the tree and glitters day and night. The star that the little one places on top with her daddy lifting her up. A tear rolls down her cheek as she remembers why. She remembers why this work, why this trouble. All this work to remember one thing and make sure her kids remember it, too. She feels a spark light in her. She takes the star and places it on her mantle, ready for the topping of the tree when it was time. She turns on ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ and her steps become lighter. As she hums, she begins to feel the true joy of Christmas fill her soul, just as if she was little once again.
“They went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” Matt. 2: 9-11