I mentioned here the other day that I was feeling sad about shifting the Christmas paradigm this year. Even though the shift is both necessary from a reality standpoint and desirable from a theological and ideological one, it comes with a cost as well. It's a denial of self.
I've concluded that part of the joy I derive from Christmas is genetic. My mother has the gene, and her mother before her. It has to do with expression. Both my mother and grandmother had collections of angel orchestras, and there are assorted other decorations and collections that come out every year that adorn home and hearth (and my grandparents were lucky to have a real, wood-burning fireplace in their NY apartment!). Christmas "accessories" afford us the opportunity to be creative with decorating, and we lunge at the chance.
I don't have the same vastness of collections that the women before me have and had. I am aware that not having had a family of my own spun my own experience of shaping Christmas differently than it might have been otherwise. I like family traditions, and I would have enjoyed sharing with children of my own the rituals that hold meaning for me from my childhood. Where I have been able I have borrowed other people's children from time to time to bring life to that unused part of my genetic makeup, but it is not the same.
Mom and I have lamented the "Christmas cutbacks." It is still early enough in the season that I may yet be able to engage in some rituals to buoy me as I experience loss. It helps to savor the warm glow cast by the lights on our tree, enjoy the drape of the garland through which I pass whenever I go to the kitchen, breathe the scent of holiday candles, and meditate on the scene of my nativity. There is rich meaning in what I have, even as I feel the pang of what is missing. And perhaps that is why I needed to write this this morning. To be reminded that my glass is half full, that I am richly blessed with what I have, and that it is up to me, from time to time, to create my own joy.
Hark, the herald angels sing, and I am among the chorus.