This is the first year I haven't blogged about the holidays, particularly that one everyone loves to love but sometimes hates. Yes, Christmas!
I don't think it's too late for a Christmas post. After all, Epiphany is not until tomorrow, right?
Just yesterday we got a big Christmas box in the mail! It was sent by loving relatives some three weeks ago. No, they don't live in another country, just the other side of this one.
Guess their goods don't rank the same speedy delivery that brings us, straight from Seattle in just a few days, anything we order from the mega-purveyer of Christmas (and other) material bliss, Amazon.com.
On the other hand, the family sent us home-preserved goods from their farm, chock full of goodness that would be hard to find on Amazon. Well worth the wait!
As I made my Christmas lists and tried to set my holiday expectations somewhere between "merry and bright" and "It's just another day, right?" I realized that this year, I didn't really want anything for Christmas.
Actually, what I really wanted were things I left back in the Northwest. Like the lace ornaments tucked away for safe keeping in my in-laws' attic in Oregon, and the treasured set of Madeleine L'Engle books trusted to Mom in Washington. Neither quite rated space in the car when we came to the South, but I miss them now.
Guess the holidays are bound to bring out my materialism one way or another, eh? Time to celebrate the poetry of limits, the beauty of simplicity, and the power of gratitude! After all, why do we let others convince us we need more stuff? Remember the Wired Magazine article, The Five Best Toys of All Time ("Stick," "Box," "String," "Cardboard Tube," and "Dirt")?
The up side of being away from family this year was how much simpler it made certain things. No hundreds of miles on the road trying to catch everyone between Christmas and New Year's. Just a half dozen long phone calls to family members and an extra effort to get the Christmas cards out, knowing we're not going to run into those old friends but have to be intentional if we want to keep the relationships alive.
There was still the perennial stress of Christmas shopping, never my favorite. But did I mention Amazon.com? We did all our shopping online. Even so, not easy. Marriage brought together Chris's slate of "close" relatives (two kids, two parents, a sibling) and mine (four parents and a sibling), plus one another, for a total of twelve. Still fewer relatives than many have to budget, plan, and shop for, I suppose, but a number daunting enough to make the kind of thoughtfulness and generosity I really want to show at Christmas time rather challenging. Half of them out-do us, usually by a very humbling margin, every single year. I hope I'm the only one keeping score. Maybe next year we'll be able to give more. Or maybe next year I won't mind so much that we're always receiving more than we can give.
Maybe that's appropriate, anyway, on a holiday meant to celebrate the incomparable gift of the Incarnation. The bad news is the good news: you can't measure up, you can't do enough to deserve the good things that come your way. Pride be damned. Ultimately, I suppose it will be.