Christmas is over.
Rather than rushing to the Boxing Day sales, I’ve spent a couple of days sitting quietly and pondering how to keep the spirit of Christmas in my heart.
These are slow days at our house.
There is no cooking. The kitchen is closed — except for the fridge and the pantry where everybody can help themselves to whatever leftovers may tempt.
These are days of quietude. No Christmas music; no sounds of toys making their captivating beeps; no conversations; no gadgets buzzing; no doorbell chimes announcing guests.
This quiet time allows time to focus on the blessings of Christmas — the memories of past Christmas’s, the feelings (good and bad), the shopping, the wrapping, the entertaining, and the spiritual side of this wonderful holiday.
This is also time to reflect on what memories this season brought.
1. As this was the first Christmas since the birth of our grand-daughter, it was also the first Christmas in many years where a child was present in our family.
The centre of attention was not the tree nor the gifts nor the food.
It was a baby that stole the show. Her presence was the main event of the day — and served as an important reminder of that first baby that started Christmas.
2. The severe ice-storm that caused hundreds of thousands of people in Toronto and Southern Ontario to lose power changed Christmas this year. On December 22 and 23 we welcomed unexpected overnight guests who had lost heat in their own home.
Schedules were thrown askew as guest room beds suddenly assumed their function of providing respite and not as storage spots for Christmas presents waiting for wrapping paper. Cars needed two inches of ice melted from windows and doors for trips to their home to shut off water, drain pipes, and empty their fridge to prevent spoiled food supplies. Walking anywhere outdoors was impossible.
Providing hospitality and showing kindness was easy. Their gratitude for a warm home and warm meals after such an abrupt disruption to their lives served as another reminder of the first Christmas when two parents desperately needed warmth and shelter.
3. Although there were days when I felt overwhelmed with the unexpected stormy and cold Ontario weather, the Christmas season reignited a Joyful spirit deep inside. I cooked and baked the foods we love. I cleaned. Seasonal decorations adorned all main rooms. I had time for a day of celebration with my bridge club friends.
On the evening when I finished my shopping, I left the mall and walked through the dark parking lot singing at the top of my lungs. A group of teenagers stared at me but I kept singing. To my surprise, they joined the chorus of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Were they a group of modern-day angels in disguise?
4. This was the third Christmas spent with our daughter-in-law’s family. Changing the scope of family at the table enlarged the circle.
Connections change over the years and it’s an honour to form new relationships while remembering the old.
Hearing stories of other family traditions brings delight and affirms the important rituals in life.
5. Finally, I think of the promises of advent — joy, hope, peace and love — these represent the true spirit of Christmas.
Will the New Year be filled with bigger and better things — as marketers would want for us?
Or might 2014 be a year that promises more kindness, more authenticity, more grace?
In these quiet days before the New Year I ask myself hard questions of how I’ll change my life to achieve the great promises of advent and to keep the real spirit of Christmas in my heart.