I love, love, love Christmas, and I'm particularly enjoying it this year. My parents, who live two miles away from me, have been with us for Christmas for years. This year, they're in Tubac, Arizona, where they have been Christmas caroling in their shirtsleeves. So we will just have a small family group on Christmas Eve...me, my husband, our two children (18 and 16) who still live at home, and our 25-year-old daughter and her very nice boyfriend. She's been dating him nearly a year. We like him a lot.
Since my parents won't be with us, I'm skipping the mandatory oyster stew, a strong tradition in my father's family. My mom's family has a strong tradition of a green jello concoction that involves pineapple, horseradish and cottage cheese. I'm skipping that too. Roast beef with yorkshire pudding is on the menu.
My parish has a "Tree of Lights" Christmas tree program where you can buy lights in honor of the departed. The donations go to the endowment fund for the parish school. The tree is then displayed in the foyer over Christmas. Things like this help families cope with, acknowledge and honor loved ones who are gone. I was very glad to buy a light for, among others, the child I lost in abortion.
The merriness of Christmas can make grieving, lonesome hearts feel even worse. In the last few weeks, I've had some hours of great sadness missing my child. Near Christmas, I imagine this happens to many mothers who feel the terrible loss of a dead child, however the child died, and however long ago.
In the midst of that yearning sadness, I feel a deepening peace as Christmas approaches. It reminds me in a unique way of the joy and hope we can cherish because of the possibility of salvation and an ultimate reunion with lost ones.
I'm looking forward to more cooking, more shopping--I've had fantastic luck this year in the shopping department--more obsessive listening of Christmas CDs, more games, more chatter, more love, more tenderness, more glee and merriment. More of a chance to acknowledge and celebrate the miracle of Christ and all the miracles that Christ does for us, every day. The abundances of Christmas feel like a reflection of the abundance of God's love and mercy.