The stockings were never hung this year; the ornaments I’ve carefully collected on vacations and memorable occasions didn’t make their annual trek from my garage to the living room. Neither did the ceramic Christmas tree my grandmother made for me a few decades ago or the nativity set we began collecting when we lived in Italy in 1996.
I just never found the time or the energy or the desire to produce my typical December decorations, or buy as many gifts, or attend as many parties as I usually do. I didn’t go to the mall; I didn’t drive out of my way just to look at Christmas lights. This season just felt overshadowed by my father’s death in late October.
But today, Christmas Day, I know that’s OK. We have a tree decorated with twinkling lights and a hand-painted ornament I bought this summer in Santa Fe on my trip with my sisters. Christmas gift bags bought yesterday at the drugstore serve as family stockings today.
Gifts cover the floor beneath the tree. There are sausage balls in the fridge and a table filled with homemade treats brought by kind friends. Best of all: both of my sons are sleeping in my house this morning.
A couple of weeks ago, I listened as my wise friend Tim Willis explored the theology of A Charlie Brown Christmas. He concluded with this thought (badly paraphrased, I’m sure): What’s important is not how you do Christmas; what’s important is what Christmas does to you.
Today, I can say that Christmas 2015 has blessed me. Not in all the usual ways and not with all the joy and anticipation I usually feel in this season that I love.
But this stripped-down season has brought me a measure of peace and acceptance that often eludes me as I rush to “do Christmas right.” I don’t anticipate this becoming my new seasonal norm; but for this year, for 2015, it is enough.
More than enough. It is good. And I am grateful.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned …
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.