This year I will experience my 70th Christmas, 53 of which I will have celebrated with Marsha. I have shared Christmas with three children and their spouses, and seven grandchildren. So I have a lot of Christmas experience.
Overall, I am a big fan of Christmas, but I must admit to just a bit of Christmas fatigue. All the years of putting up and taking down decorations, consuming cookies, sending cards, buying, wrapping, giving and receiving presents, drinking eggnog, watching Christmas TV shows, ad nauseum is excessive, redundant and boring. (To be fair, Marsha does most of the heavy lifting)
All these Christmases run together. Time, place and celebrants get all jumbled up, and memories of Christmas pasts are veiled in a fog of uncertainty. A few stand out. Oldest son Chris was the manager of a basketball team that played in a tournament in Hawaii, and the whole family swam in the Pacific Ocean on Christmas morning. That was weird. As a drunken law student, I “negotiated” the purchase of our first Christmas tree at a Hyde Park lot by paying above the asking price. Another time Marsha got so mad at me over white or multicolored lights that she jumped out of the car just like in the movies. And I chopped a hole in our hardwood floor trying to make a fresh cut on our tree. Hey, I was a lawyer, not a logger.
The best part of Christmas was experiencing it as a kid. It was awesome. Enjoying Christmas with children certainly enhances the specialness of the season.
These days for me the best time of the whole season is late Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning outside, alone in the cold stillness. In the Christian world, it is the quietest time of the entire year. The peace and quiet always remind me of the wonderful story of Mary and Joseph making their humble way to Bethlehem where their son Jesus is born in a manger in a stable. Even an apostate like me is moved by a story I have heard for as long as I’ve had memory. That story and its message is never excessive, redundant or boring.
I am reminded of how very blessed and/or lucky I am. There is a sense that the future will be good. Hope is not foolish. There can be joy. Peace has a chance. I can be better.
I wish everyone the very best of the season with the hope that we all will experience many more.