Reflections on Christmas 2014

reflectionsxmax“Best Christmas in most recent memory.” That’s what I keep saying whenever people ask me how the holidays were. There was much to warrant this adulation: there was great food and drink (I ate so much delicious junk last week), there were parties and games, I received wonderful presents (including some great books, and a nice pair of leather gloves). Above it all, however, it was the people who made this the most enjoyable Christmas celebration in recent memory.

The holidays are often highly subjective. How people celebrate differs, sometimes immensely. Yet the common theme this year was togetherness. There were no strains on our gatherings. Even mild sickness didn’t seem to dampen the joy of the whole week. I was especially blessed by my time with my mom and siblings. It’s rare that we all get to be together like this but it reminded me so much of our childhood. Nostalgia was a good bedfellow to those events. Christmas at my mom’s can sometimes be hard because there is the noticeable absence of my dad, and he would have loved this year’s celebration. But despite this somber note, it was a joyous occasion and I was so blessed to be with them.

Out of all the gifts I received the best gifts were the creation of memories with those I love. People make this holiday special for me. As I look back there was great food, wonderful presents, lots of games and parties, and yet it was the sweetness of familiarity that struck me most. Laughing with my siblings and their families, sometimes to the point of tears, the comfort of sleeping in our old room at my in-laws, the absolute delight of drinking coffee with some of my best friends, these were the real blessings of this year’s Christmas. I tear up even as I think about it now.

I love Christmas, I’ve said it before. It’s one of my favorite seasons of the whole year and I don’t mind that it starts early and drags into the new year. I don’t mind that it is chock-full of clichés and kitsch. I love to give gifts and share in the excitement of opening something you always wanted. I love to eat and drink and celebrate. I love the holidays. But without the people who are most dear to me none of this would be all that special. At one point this last week I was nervous that I would not get to see my dear friends Justin and Kyle. The thought of missing out on them was so discouraging that I could feel myself becoming physically deflated. But the joy of spending time with them, even just a few hours drinking coffee and hearing their familiar voices, was deeply meaningful. It’s these people who make Christmas special to me. It’s knowing that every year my sister will fly in to see us and I will get to spend time with her that makes my holidays exciting. It’s the delight on my children’s faces as they open new toys and express abundant thank-yous for things that they “always wanted.” These are the joys of Christmas. It’s these people and my time with them that have made this Christmas the most wonderful in recent memory.

We’ve left Ohio and returned home. I am happy to be home. A week away is a long time and I was ready to return to my routines. But I have a sense of melancholy this morning as I reflect on this holiday. I wish it could be like that always. I wish I could be with those people always. I wish I could celebrate like that every week. There’s a sense in which the holidays are pointers to a greater joy coming, one that will be eternal. The relationships I have are sweet because I feel the love of these people. That is a love that will grow and expand into eternity. This was the best Christmas in most recent memory, but I know that this won’t be the last time I experience those joys.

 

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