The holiday season has begun and yet again this year I find myself struggling to find where I fit in. My mom got sick when I was 12 and I have such a short window of ever remembering a good Christmas. I remember the ones that were sad, lonely, and devoid of much joy. My mom was sick or we did not have money for food and bills so gifts, Christmas, and Santa were not top on the list.
Somehow my dad loved Christmas and yet what I saw of that was the love of decorating, the ambience that made it seem that all was well when really it was not. I am torn by my ghost of Christmas past, and how I really have never gotten into the Christmas spirit since I was 12. It has always felt forced and fake to me. I have been at other Christmas’ as an adult where the kids involved ripped their gifts open and only asked for more. It rubbed me the wrong way and I vowed to never breed that in my family. I either do not want to celebrate it the way the rest of the world does, or I want to create a different story. Chris agrees.
Added to my ghost of Christmas past — is that Nico’s birthday is on Christmas. Due to my past I would rather spend the day celebrating him and his birthday than Christmas. Yet, how do we do that when others in our life might not understand where we are coming from? I have long had the opinion (and have shared in other blogs) that I do not want to lie to Nico about Santa. I think there is a way to keep the world magical and real and not lie to our children. How do we ever expect them to trust us if we lie to them? Magic can happen with honesty. Did we all just get sucked into the story of Christmas? The one that circles back to Black Friday, retail, and consumerism? Or is it about spending time together, shared experiences, and giving to others? How many of us actually do that during the holiday season?
Gratefully, Nico will not know the difference this year, but next year will be different. This year (whether his birthday, or if we decide to do an actual Christmas) he is delighted to just have us open a box from Amazon Prime — even if the box contains batteries. Even better when it has a toy truck or school bus.
Call me extreme, but this momma is torn on what to do and how to bring the true spirit of Christmas into Nico’s life.
At times, days and weeks go by before my dad ever comes to my thought. Lately I have had strong remembrances of family, my mom, dad, and grandma. Usually it comes stronger at the holidays, especially thoughts about my dad. For some reason he loved Christmas. The funny part is I am not sure he did much to make Christmas happen in my house. My mom bought or more likely made our gifts, staying up many all nighters to get them done in time, wrapped them, and put them under the tree often at the wee hours of Christmas morning. She made the cookies, desserts, and homemade gifts for friends and teachers. To top it all off, she also made a meal for Christmas eve, our Christmas morning breakfast, and a big meal on Christmas day. I think my dad was into the decorations. The Santas, elves, sleighs, and nativity scenes.
In January, my dad will have been gone for 15 years. We put up our Christmas tree on Sunday, and somehow I have convinced Chris to keep white lights in a tree outside our living room window year-round. My dad would probably smile knowing that I am trying to keep that Christmas spirit. I think about him as I watch my niece grow up and wonder what it would be like for him to have his first grandchild coo and crawl all over him. Next weekend he would have been 73. I see him (when I notice) as I walk down our hallway of family photos. I am pictured at my niece’s age, head full of curls and he, covered with a beard in the late 1970’s. I think about him when I find a favorite childhood book and remember my reading to him. Those were those moments when I remember he was most calm and patient.
I wonder at times what it will be like when I have kids of my own, and how many times I will wish there was a contact in my phone that said: Mom and another that said Dad. Would they text with me? Would they meet up with old friends on Facebook? It is so hard to know, they have been gone for so long that I no longer know who they would have grown to become. Yet, I will do what I can each year to continue the Christmas spirit in my own way, however it may feel right each year. Whether that means to dote on my niece who does not have my mom and dad to dote on her, or whether that means to donate toys to kids in my community.
What I think my dad wanted was to feel apart of something bigger than himself. We can all do that in so many differing ways, all keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving.
Not in the way you might think. You did not just sneeze. You gave entirely of yourself. You gave the gifts that you have to bestow on the world. You might be a rock star listener, problem solver, or delegator. Maybe you have a way of speaking your mind, with a poised bluntness. Whatever your gift, we each have our own unique way to share our impact with the world.
It is an idea that I have been thinking about for the past few weeks and months. That we are all put into situations where we can deliver our best selves with our unique gifts. There are times when we have a decision we have to make. We mull over our options, weigh the pros and cons, and in the end, if we ultimately focus on how we can best bless in each situation we are telling the universe that we are open and willing to use our strengths in ways we might not be able to imagine.
Yes, some might call that how we can best bless. It is not meant to sound religious, but as I ponder the word “bless” I struggle to find a better word. Call it what you like, but in the end if we are leading and living through our strengths, we enrich our life and those that we interact with on a daily basis. The blessing in the end is reciprocal.
You might be in a situation where you feel like the work you are doing stretches you but there are parts of your job that you would rather not have to deal with on a daily basis. If you change your thought and change the direction of your moments to ones that think in line with where you can best give of yourself, you reap gifts you cannot even imagine. You might end up connecting with a colleague and ending up with a life long friend. You might find your best work leads you to a different job, or that you are actually very happy right where you have been working, you just did not see it before.
Utilizing our gifts and strengths, and being open to share these gifts in ways where we can add value, and make our surroundings a better place is how we bless the world around us. It brings out the best in others and most importantly ourselves. Bring it. Bless in all you do.