Seeking the Christmas Spirit


 

Chuckie's first snow romp, Christmas time 2010.

Chuckie’s first snow romp, Christmas time 2010.

This time of the year means different things to many people. For me, Christmas isn’t a religious experience. Let me rephrase that. I don’t see this holiday the way people tell me I should.

Here comes the Grinch in me: I see it as an international holiday with holy undertones fabricated to push commercial profits. Whatever significance this season really carries is the one we give it. Perhaps that’s why I feel more estranged from this holiday this year than ever before.

Growing up, Christmas was the smell of pine, a golden deer, and a manger set over the mantle. It was hours beside my family picking out the perfect tree, decorating it, and snuggling on the couch before a fire.

My grandmother and I, Christmas 2011.

My grandmother and I, Christmas 2011.

When I think of Christmas, I think of the smell of my grandmother’s perfume, Scrabble tournaments, and what if felt like to be a part of a loving family. Midnight services and cold winter flakes, my rescue husky’s first snow, and the priceless gifts that meant nothing to anyone except the person you gave it to. Christmas embodied the letters tucked inside a book to be read over and over, even as the pages wear and fade.

In short, this holiday to me has always been about slowing down long enough to live life as we were made to do. You know, the intangible things the Holy Spirit within us urges our souls to live within and experience.

Charming, Pika, and me in front of our baby tree Christmas 2012.

Charming, Pika, and me in front of our baby tree Christmas 2012.

This year, Charming and I are building our first Christmas together. Last year, we bought a tiny tree together on my visit to see him. It was cute, it was ours, but when it was all said in done, we were still states away from one another.

This year I felt the pull of change as I realized the holidays I knew before were now a part of history. There will still be holidays with the people I love, both old and new. But the things I remember, the things I held dear… they’ve slipped between my fingers into the sands of time. They’re memories, and that bothers me more than a little.

It’s not to say I don’t enjoy the new traditions unfolding. Like I said before, this year is special. It belongs to Charming (Pika) and I as we build a new tradition. One that’s our own.

Maybe I’m too sentimental over lost moments. I’ve been so sensitive lately. Every time I see a frantic shopper getting angry or flustered over the “perfect gift”, I shake my head in disappointment. A lady reprimanded me the other day for using a black marker on a gift card instead of “red and green”, and I smirked at another woman who dared to scold a young man for saying, “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas”. I just want to shake these people and say, “You’re missing the point!”

Yet maybe I am too. After all, why am I such a Grinch this year?

I guess I just miss the ones so far away. I ache for the family I can’t connect with like I could before. The woman I love so much but the ailments of age causes her to forget who I am. I hate that the world has become so material and how these material things pull our attention farther from the people that love us.

And perhaps that’s a terribly judgmental assumption. The truth is I find myself distant when I should be drawing closer to the ones right in front of me. It’s an old habit I’m trying hard to break. My emotions have a tight lasso over my heart, and when they get too overwhelming, my first instinct is to take several steps back.

This year I’ve worked hard to develop a better Emotional Intelligence. More than ever, I need to focus on the beautiful things in front of me. To live in the here and now, not in the past (no matter how beautiful it may be).

I have so many things to celebrate. So many joys to set my heart to dancing. This world will always be a clash of heavy and light things. It’s the tragic beauty of living. The ache that makes love so real.

Thus far, Charming has introduced me to mint chocolate milk and soon egg nog (what the heck is it, anyway? Anyone know?). And his smile through it all just makes me wonder why I let the heavy outweigh the light.

There are so many people whose baggage weighs far heavier than mine. I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry this holiday, which is supposed to be so warm and wonderful, can feel like knives.

So I’ll get up this morning, get out of my chair, and try to put a smile on the face of those I encounter. As cheesy as that sounds, we deserve to feel some warmth, don’t we? All of us. Something to remind us of the good that’s right in front of us.

Hug someone you love today. Share the warmth with a stranger. We all need it, and every one of us deserves it.

Cheers and love from my little family to yours.

-Elli

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