Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Exhilarating And Exhausting Celebration That Is Christmas


The kids are all gone home, tucked into their own warm beds with their children entrapped in the fatigue and sugar induced coma of the perfectly innocent at the end of the exhilarating and exhausting celebration that is Christmas. My house is trashed, my dishwasher is working over time and the cat will be terrified for the next month and a half. Bits of colored paper and ribbon, silver candy wrappings and toy packaging twist ties litter every corner, debris from the tornado of gaiety and abandon which tore through these rooms several hours ago.  I am sitting alone with a hot cup of coffee, sweet and thick with cream and sugar, surveying the mess, bone tired but not wanting to let this day go.

Just as every year I can remember before it, it was the best Christmas ever and the worst Christmas ever all rolled into one and stuck together with curling ribbon and cake crumbs. I am happy with the gifts we had for the family because they all seemed to go over so well. One of my granddaughters put on her new pajamas at two in the afternoon because she loved them that much, marching around playing her pink guitar for us all, secure in the knowledge, as she put it, that Santa comes even if you are bad. The babies both sat in the floor and played with their little people putting them in and out and in and out and in and out of their house and barn. My husband, AKA Grandpa, and my grandson both played with their helicopters, buzzing the cat and exciting the little ones who were as enthralled by an airplane in the house as they were by the gifts and the tree.

The food was abundant and delicious and even the children, full of treats from their stockings and bowls of chocolate on every counter, ate a bit too much, groaning but not leaving the room or saying No Thank You when the birthday cake for Jesus came out.  Swollen with good food and better company people sprawled about the living room watching the toddlers in action and feeling the dinner settle firmly on their hips. Snow fell in the Deep South, blanketing our state with a beauty and a quiet calm not seen on Christmas here in over one hundred years. These are the things that made it the best Christmas ever.

I look over at a picture of my youngest son with his arm around my mother, both gone from my life and oh so terribly missed. I say a little prayer to God on this, His son’s birthday, and ask him to watch over them for me, to remind them that I love them. I look at presents still under the tree, waiting for the grandchildren that couldn’t come and ask God to keep them safe and warm, to help them stay balanced and happy until I see them again. I think of their father having Christmas without them and ask the same for him. The one gift I would love to give him is the one I absolutely can’t and it infuriates me even after all these years to know mothers do not have the power to stop their child from hurting. These are the things that make it the worst Christmas ever.

The more people you have around you that allow you to love them, to pour your energy and affection freely upon their heads and hearts, the more keenly one feels the holes, the great yawning chasms where absent loved ones should be. The more keenly these losses are felt the more abundant the amount of love available to pour into those that are there waiting for it, asking for it. You cannot truly love until you have lost and yet, you cannot truly lose something that is not loved to distraction.. All of this is so clear on this one day, this one moment when we celebrate a life given with pure love. God has blessed us, every one.