This morning I frame our home in a digital screen, help myself to ease into this season. "It doesn't feel like Christmas" I say to a friend. Because of money and time and all those grown up things, I'm spending Christmas here in Texas. Texas, where the sky is blue every day, the grass still has green lingering on, and where the cold is bitter, but not white. I'm very far from snow or mornings by the woodstove or late night eggnog while singing carols in candlelight. (But please don't pity me: I'm also far from shoveling my driveway and deicing my car.)
This Christmas I'm pulling the belt tighter, not in stinginess, but because there just isn't the money to spend. I'm making homemade things and tucking them in places where maybe they'll pass for Christmas gifts. Or maybe they won't. I don't know and I can't control it.
When I was small we lined wintery tins with wax paper, filled them with Christmas cookies and we ate oatmeal by the heater in the kitchen. We woke on cold Christmas mornings where we could see our breath in the still dark bedrooms and opened our stockings at the foot of our beds. Most of my memories are built of snapshots, brief pictures at which I can point when my memory gets fuzzy or it lies to me, which it does often. But these are the memories I have, these are the traditions I remember.
For a long time I have felt that Christmas was a time for traditions, doing the same thing every year, building an expectation for our minds to receive, making an altar of our hearts, and an opportunity to set up the nativity scene every day of advent. But there are so many things in my heart that are changing this year and I suspect that this season will not escape unchallenged. Every day I am asking myself,
"What do I miss about Christmas? And why does that matter?"
"How am I living during this season that should be lived every day of the year?"
"What patterns am I adopting today that will stay with me past December 26th?"
"How is God more glorified when I meditate on His Birth and His Death every day?"
I don't have the answers to those questions. I don't.
But I know this and am learning it too: Christmas, the holiday, is what we make of it and we are all making something of it. But Christmas, the celebration of Christ, is what He makes of it. And He has already made it. It is already good and joyful and quiet and holy and miraculous and awe-filled and it is every day.
If I remember nothing else this Christmas, I remember that.