As we all prepare for our second COVID-19 Christmas, we might find ourselves feeling sad—finding ourselves longing for better days.
Sometimes in the thick of things, we find ourselves losing perspective. We forget what really matters, love.
Some of my fondest memories of Christmas are the ones that were at the time utter holiday fails. With time and a developed sense of humor, I can appreciate the gifts of such events.
I share these highlights of Christmas past for perspective and to share a laugh.
All the presents were for me.
My earliest Christmas catastrophe goes back to before I could read or just as I was learning to read. I was so excited about all the presents under the tree that when all my family members were sleeping I woke early and tried to sneak a peek. The only problem is that I didn’t know which one was mine so I ended up peeking and unwrapping several under the tree and then trying to wrap everything back up.
Santa caught me that morning and I think there was some discussion under the Christmas tree. You see, this Christmas I was focused on myself and my parents reminded me that Christmas is about sharing and experiencing the joy of unwrapping gifts together.
What I learned was the gift of patience, as did my parents, and learned to look beyond myself.
Down came the tree.
The second Christmas fiasco happened several years later. I was vacuuming the golden shag rug in the living room and some tinsel was caught in the vacuum…and then the tree. Before I knew it, the entire six-foot blue spruce was smack in the middle of the living room and glass ornaments were everywhere.
I attempted to make it right and in my clumsy attempt knocked over the manger and the rest of the presents. The entire room was tinsel strewn everywhere.
My parents by this time had learned to have humor where I was concerned and had a few laughs. I learned the gift of slowing down this Christmas and the importance of asking for help. I also learned the dangers of tinsel.
Overall, my childhood Christmas memories growing up were lovely.
They were the quintessential holidays to remember.
As I grew to be an adult and with a child of my own, I hoped that I could give my daughter the same experiences.
My life was different, however. As a single mother raising a child, there were many holidays that I barely had the money for presents and did without for the entire month to get those presents.
These are the Christmas memories that really stand out.
Where is the car?
I found myself asking this question several times during my life.
In the second year of my university program, my car was stolen from the university.
When it happened a second time in my second year working, I was again in shock. This time my vehicle was taken just before Christmas and this time with all the Christmas exchange baking and presents.
This will always be a Christmas to remember. At the time, I felt like this was the worst thing that could possibly happen. However, now thinking back, it seems silly that I was as upset as I was. Whoever took my vehicle had a lovely Christmas. I ended up going without a vehicle for several months and took to walking and felt healthier and stronger.
The lesson I learned was about impermanence. Things come and go. I also learned to not leave things in the car. Take everything you want and need into the house. What we have comes and goes. Things are simply things.
The dog ate the presents.
The year our dog opened up all the presents and ate an entire box of chocolates is another Christmas gem. I recall we started the trend of wrapping up dog presents. Well, the dog didn’t know which ones were his so he opened up all of them. Sounds like my first Christmas to remember, doesn’t it?
That Christmas my dog ate an entire box of chocolates—wrapping and all. We had an eventful time walking him from 2:00 am until 4:00 am, so that he could let it all pass. I recall being so worried about my pup. I prayed as I walked him and called the vet. I vowed to be more careful.
That year, I realized how important my pets are they are family.
Why are you so happy?
The one Christmas that really stands out is the year my daughter was in grade five.
After dropping off Christmas baking at my daughter’s school, I was stopped by a lunchroom mom. I did not know her and she did not know who I was yet she spoke as she did. What she said I recall word for word.
“What do you have that we don’t have?”
“What do you mean,” I asked.
She continued on, ” You live in that apartment, don’t even drive a car, and look at you full of peace and calm and happiness.” She then softened and looked like she was going to cry.
At the time, I was dumbfounded, and to be honest I was a little insulted.
After the initial shock, I let her words sink in and realized she was genuine and hurting. I told her I was sorry that things weren’t going well for her and she appreciated that I understood. I did understand and it did hit home. Material wealth does not bring happiness this needs to come from within.
I felt compassion for her and her suffering related to possessions and materialism and keeping up with society.
I felt compassion for her that she was burned out and tired rushing and pushing herself. I offered her my smile and a hand on her shoulder.
We never talked again after that date. We did wish each other a Merry Christmas as we signed up to help deliver Christmas gift hampers.
This brief interaction changed things for me.
It made me realize what I had and what I took for granted. At this time, I was content but life was not easy in any sense of the word. It was simple however and uncomplicated. I lived mindfully, present, and aware. I lived without pretense.
During this time in my life, my daughter attended an affluent school and we lived across the street from the school in a modest brick apartment.
I had no idea that everyone knew where we lived or that I was talked about. My daughter however did know this yet she did not share it with me until much later.
This event made me realize that to outsiders, my happiness was a mystery and it could not be explained with words.
How do you explain peace?
This was a year of growth and expansion and a year of giving of self and time instead of monetary gifts.
Today with Covid, Christmas might be heavy and hard and full of grief.
There might be some things that you experience this year that later on with reflection will make you appreciate all that you have and all that you have to offer.
We are here now.
Let’s enjoy what we have the simple joys and pleasures.
>> Reflect on what is important this Christmas and give what you can and offer love where material possessions lack.
>> Remember this holiday celebrates the birth of a king and his riches are not of this world.
May your heart be filled with joy and peace this Christmas, dear friends, and the whole year through.