I wish I could carry this “New baby Christmas” with me every year. I completely let myself off the hook. I haven’t tried to make Christmas perfect, because I know I can’t. I have a baby in my arms. There was no way to get all those things that make a “Perfect Christmas” done, and I realize that “those things” are figments of my imagination anyway. I allowed myself no expectations.
My friend Regina shared these words: “Is everything done? Probably not. Is everything wrapped? Nope. Were Christmas cards mailed? Negative. But isn’t that just like the birth of a Child? No matter how much you want to “be ready” you never really are. That child is going to come. . .and when he does, you always manage to have what you need. So, let the child come. We have what we need.”
We began to treat Advent as a period of waiting and preparing sometime after converting to Catholicism. And only in the last few years did I learn from a friend that some people wait to put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. We’ve learned not to actually wait until Christmas Eve to buy the tree, but we buy it a day or two in advance and leave it outside. On Christmas Eve we bring it inside after Jonny builds a wooden tree stand, realizing that once again we have forgotten to replace the old broken store bought stand. Jonny and I don’t really help decorate anymore. We have kids old enough to handle everything, and they love doing it. I think my favorite thing about our Christmas celebration is that it doesn’t end with Christmas Day. We have embraced the fact that Christmas is a season and we are still celebrating in our small way. I haven’t made “Christmas cookies” yet, and Christmas for the animals hasn’t happened in it’s entirety yet because it rained all day on the 23rd, the day we usually celebrate it. There’s still time. Christmas isn’t over yet. I think that helps me to avoid the “let down” that many experience after Christmas Day. There won’t be another Christmas Day until next year, but we can continue to carry Christmas with us in the coming days, and by the time Epiphany arrives (January 6th) it might be a little bit easier to pack away the decorations and embrace the new year.
I do think that we enjoyed our Christmas day more than usual this year. Part of that was keeping things simple. Our plans were small. We needed to go to Christmas Mass, and we planned to share the making and eating of a Christmas dinner with a friend. It’s usually just our family celebrating together at Christmas because we don’t have nearby relatives, so having a friend join us was really special. He’s well loved by our children, so they were thrilled to have him. He brined our turkey in advance and then he and Jonny grilled it over charcoal. It was amazing as far as turkey goes.
Things will feel a little chaotic to me over the next week or so (in our house that has been decorated by children). I will try to keep the tree up until Epiphany. I will try not to let the apparent disorder get under my skin, but embrace it as the joyful celebration it is meant to be.