I was laying in bed today, recovering from overdoing it yesterday, thinking about what the Christmas season really means.
When I was a child this season held so much magic. There were beautiful lights and happy music, Christmas cards and caroling. There was this amazing tree that lit up and sometimes played music in my living room with bright pretty boxes under it. And on Christmas morning there magically appeared a stocking on my bedroom doorknob filled with surprises which I could sit and play with or often eat. Then there were these new gifts under the tree and that came from someplace magical called the North Pole, carried by a big happy man in a red and white suit, and crafted by tiny little elves. What more magic could you need. Best of all my mother smiled and often played with me that day.
As an adult it became about creating that magic for my own children. I tried to re-capture some of the magic for myself but the only place I could find it was in wrapping presents for my children, filling stockings full of goodies, and watching the joy in their eyes on Christmas morning.
Now, in the afternoon of my life with my own children now adults, I have struggled to find new meaning and magic of the Christmas season once again. For some this season is about religion and celebrating Christ. For others it is still very much about gifting. Every person has their own take on what this holiday is to them or does for them.
Someone very dear to me told me she doesn’t celebrate Christmas anymore because it has become too commercial and no longer about Christ. I have not been able to let this thought go. I am not personally religious and so have not, in many years, celebrated that part of this season. For me it has been about love, family, kindness, charity, and magic (of course).
For many years now we have not been able to decorate a tree, because we live in a small space. Nor have we been able to buy a lot of gifts, because we are on a limited income. This hasn’t deterred me from enjoying the decorations of others or from giving to charity or helping a neighbor. This hasn’t deterred me from watching all the Christmas specials that my mother helped me fall in love with so many years ago. This hasn’t deterred me from feeling a little warmer, kinder, and more grateful at this time of year. This hasn’t detracted from me feeling a little more joy.
I was talking to a friend today and as I was explaining what I couldn’t stop thinking about I popped out with “You get out of it what you put into it” and I realized that is it entirely.
This season may represent different things to different people. You might call it Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, or something else entirely. You might find your magic at church, driving around looking at the lights, or sitting quietly in front of a candle at home. But you will only get out of this season what you put into it.
Personally I choose to give a little more freely at this time of year, to help others, to send Christmas cards, to sing carols, and to watch every Christmas special I can; from Rudolf to Miracle on 34th Street. There is magic in every person you meet at this time of year and miracles abound.
I have never been rich, but being on a limited income has certainly changed how Christmas plays out in our house. We don’t do a big Christmas morning anymore and we often don’t do a big special meal. But my husband and I will cuddle up and watch Christmas shows together all month long. This year we went out and bought a gift for a child and put it in a donation box. We sent a special Christmas card to a sick child.
I feel the magic of Christmas all around me. I don’t remember much of my own childhood but I remember the feeling of Christmas. I don’t remember the toys, but I remember that knitted stocking. I don’t remember the money spent, but I remember the pretty lights. I don’t remember what we played but that we played. That magic will live in me forever and I am grateful for it. So grateful that I will never squander a season because I cannot afford “things”.
So Merry Christmas. May all the joy, love, happiness and magic of this season pour forth from you so that you may find it as well. Remember you will get out of it what you are willing to put into it.