Saturday, December 26, 2009

Did you celebrate well?

December 25 has come and gone, and today I sit pondering…what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well? The world tells us we are to be filled with joy and wonder. We are called to celebrate the birth of a Savior. How does one honor a Jesus who has been lost amidst the shopping bags and the self-importance of the “chosen” few who claim to know THE Christ.

At Anchors and Masts, Tess speaks of Christmas as a time for families. As I spent the weeks leading up to the holidays listening to individuals who struggled with going home or not going home, I became increasingly aware of the damage we do to each other and ourselves in the name of family and in the name of Christ. We seem to forget that Jesus’ own genealogy was filled not only with God's faithful, but also “adulterers, murderers, rebels, conspirators, transgressors of all sorts, both the fearful and the bold.”*

We seek impossible perfection. We say, Put on a happy face. Go to church. Celebrate with your family – even if it hurts. So, I ask again...what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well? My family experienced a fabulously messy Christmas this year with lots of tears and gales of laughter. I had a little meltdown in front of a visiting nephew - surprising and amazingly good. It opened our hearts to see and know that we’re all human and no one is exempt from life’s hard times. My ancestral crew doesn’t fit in a Norman Rockwell portrait (although heaven knows we’ve tried at times!). We are a messy, wonderful, wild, American family complete with our own rebels and transgressors, both fearful and bold!

One relation would give anything to be with us and can’t. Another holds a perpetual scowl in our presence. A devout Christian refuses “real wine” communion, then ladles on spoonful after spoonful of Port sauce at dinner. We make small talk. We cry and shout. Laugh and play games. Show love and gratitude. Display our rough edges.

Christmas Eve, I oohed and aaahed over the sweetness of the Christmas pageant, then wept sobbing tears, because it was too much to bear. A brief while later I was bursting with gratitude and joy for the gathering around my table. My heart was filled to the brim and broken wide open all at the same time.

Obviously, Christmas brings up LOTS of emotions (at least for me!) It is a great metaphor for life. The mess and the beauty. I love it and I hate it. I overflow with joy one moment and I burst into tears the next. Bottom line – Christmas is hard and Christmas is wonderful. I think I felt every emotion possible in the last three days. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted today and just a little bit weepy with no solid answer to my own question… what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well?

*Kathleen Norris - "God with Us"

10 comments:

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

I was bursting with gratitude and joy for the gathering around my table. My heart was filled to the brim and broken wide open all at the same time.

This tells me that you've answered your own question.

my thoughts -

in the heart of darkness, we cherish and celebrate the light. light defined by the darkness that surrounds it. that's Christmas in a nutshell. when we find joy and gratitude in our status quo, perhaps we've also figured out how to celebrate it well.

Barbara said...

I wouldn't know a well celebrated Christmas if I fell into one! ;) Mine tend to be very quiet and solitary. I share a simple dinner with friendly neighbours and I enjoy the Mass and reveillon (party) at the Chapel and the overall blissful quiet. But that's me.
Yours sounded very real and honest and a flash of light in the darkness. What more can one expect? Peace accompany you into the new year! Hugs!

Kel said...

Christmas has a way of magnifying everything

as you have expressed so well here

Maureen said...

Wishing you Peace. May you always walk in His light.

Endlessly restless said...

Lucy

I'm sure that Kel is right about Christmas magnifying things. We enter the season with unrealistic, sugar-coated expectations. Then find ourselves dealing with the raw emotions of real, fragile human beings.

Our family Christmas was full of all of these tensions and challenges this year, but for me the joy was knowing that we were able to be real with each other and that we were all in it together. As you say - hard and wonderful, like all of the points of contact in our lives.

Enjoy the peace of the rest of the holiday.

lucy said...

tinkerbell - so delighted to see you back here. i particularly like "light defined by the darkness that surrounds it." without contrast, everything becomes pretty bland and indistinguishable, huh?

barbara - sounds to me like you did "fall into" a well-celebrated christmas! who says a celebration (i.e. commemoration) has to be loud, raucous and with lots of people? "simple and solitary" sounds like a lovely way to celebrate... (and i know tess agrees!)

kel - it is indeed a brilliant magnification of everything!

maureen - and peace with you.

ER - happy christmas! i love your words:

"for me the joy was knowing that we were able to be real with each other and that we were all in it together."

that pretty much sums up what i was trying to say here.

Country Parson said...

Boy, what a messy family. Glad mine is nearly perfect in most every way. At least that's the way I experienced them when I visited at Christmas.
CP

lucy said...

CP - guess it all depends on how you define "perfect in most every way." :-) xo

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Yes, our "definition" might make some flee in confusion but there was a great lot of honesty in the laughing and in the crying, in the joy and in the sorrow, in the reality of the moment and in the optimism of the future!

xoxoxox

lucy said...

SS - sometimes messy IS perfect!!! xoxoxo