I was shopping yesterday with my bestest of best buds, Eunice, known to best to others as Dawn. Our main purpose was companionship, we’re both grieving this year. Dawn’s momma went home to be with Jesus in September. When our grief is shared we can find the joy and the laughter in the memories we have of our loved ones. And laugh we did. We were positively goofy. Eunice and I went in search of Christmas.
Christmas is hard to find when you’re grieving. The energy or even the desire to decorate your own house is a monumental task. I know personally, if it weren’t for my youngest son I wouldn’t bother with it at all, but he is still young enough that Christmas trimmings are very important. Shopping is a burden, wrapping even worse. Day to day living is still a chore, let alone the added mountain to scale of Christmas. What is Christmas anyway?
I find myself asking this question more now that Larry is gone than at any other time in my life. What is Christmas? What is Christmas supposed to look like? What is it supposed to feel like? According to most of the TV movies, you can’t have Christmas without Santa Claus. There is some tragic event that is ruining Christmas and something even more dramatic that makes it possible for Santa to swoop in and save Christmas at the last-minute. I love Santa Claus and whenever I’m asked I will most assuredly tell you that the spirit of Santa Claus is alive and well. I do not believe, however, that Christmas cannot take place without Santa Claus. I think I was fairly young when I had that bubble popped. I had 9 cousins that lived just a block away, half of them older. Christmas still came without Santa.
I’m pretty sure that Christmas isn’t about the Black Friday Sales. Saving money and being a good steward is a great thing, but I don’t think that it’s mentioned in the Bible under Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas. I haven’t gone out shopping on Black Friday in years, probably 18 or more. I’d rather be home, all snug and warm, shopping from my computer or my favorite QVC.
So if Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus and it isn’t about shopping, then what is it about. If it’s not about shopping then it’s not about gifts. Don’t think it’s about the lights. I hope not at any rate. I’m rebelling this year. I have a lighted Holiday Hippo in my front yard, courtesy my bestest bud. She bought it for me to be sure that the most annoying of all Christmas songs ever written would be forever stuck in my head each time I left and returned from my home. “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas…. only a hippopotamus will do.” Yup, she loves me. I also have strings of pink flamingo lights hanging from my porch. These non-traditional lights are my way of begging for global warming this winter. I’m protesting cold weather.
OK, so no Santa, no shopping or gifts, no lights… is it the songs? There are so many wonderful Christmas songs. Songs that touch your heart and make you cry, songs that bring a smile to your face and laughter to your life. But still no, as wonderful as Christmas songs can be, I don’t believe that is what Christmas is about either. Like the others, they can enhance the experience of Christmas, but that is not what Christmas is. What IS Christmas… what is it supposed to be?
I believe that I found Christmas twice this past weekend. The first one was at a shopping center in Lansing. A homeless woman with disabilities was begging. I had some money in my pocket so I rolled my window down and gave it to her. Noah asked me why the other cars weren’t stopping to give her money also and why I had. I was able to have a discussion with him about why we are supposed to help each other…. helping the least of these. And how the woman might not have even been a homeless woman, she might have been an angel sent by God at Christmas time to check on the condition of our hearts. Are we really helping the least of these, or are we only concerned with ourselves… entertaining angels unaware. That moment felt more like Christmas to me than any other so far this year.
The second moment of Christmas came yesterday when I was shopping with my bestest bud. There is a young mother with 3 children who is in need of everything to set up house. We went shopping for her and her children. That shopping trip was fun. In those moments of playing Santa Claus, Santa Claus was important to Christmas. Imagining the lights in the children’s eyes as they opened the gifts, and in the young mother’s eyes as her burdens became a little bit lighter and her faith in her heavenly Father’s care of her grew a little bit more… those lights of Christmas became very important to Christmas.
Christmas doesn’t feel the same. It feels hollow. It feels lonely. But for two moments on two different days I found Christmas, not in Santa or shopping or gifts or lights or songs, but in giving. I found Christmas in giving of myself to someone else. Someone whom I did not know. Someone who did not know me. I found Christmas simply by giving without expecting anything in return… and it felt wonderful! What a wonderful world this would be if we would all do this every day.