A week ago, on a day I had packed to the brim with a doctor’s appointment, some last-minute errands, a few house-cleaning chores and a Christmas meal to prepare, I came down with the flu. By the time my four adult sons, a daughter-in-law and a girlfriend arrived on Christmas eve from Chicago and Tennessee to celebrate with us, I was in bed.
Christmas day was a blur as I lay on the sofa in my festive Christmas tree sleep pants with a cold cloth across my aching sinuses. We opened gifts, people ate….and I slept.
It was memorable.
But the nasty virus that threatened to sabotage the holiday I had planned from the moment I froze the last of the Thanksgiving turkey actually wound up giving credence to some important truths. Here’s what survived my bout with the Christmas flu:
1. Many hands make light work. The girls and even a couple of my sons pitched in to prepare food, wash dishes and clean up messes. And my husband assembled his first ever pan of lasagna from instructions I gave him as I sat head-in-hand a safe distance from the kitchen table.
2. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. By Day 2, I was quite a sight, but no one made fun of my Christmas pants or my dreadful spiky hair. I’m not saying I was beautiful, but they loved me anyway.
3. Laughter is the the best medicine. Hearing my grown-up sons and their ladies laugh and chatter into the night as I lay in my bed did more to ease the pain than all the Dayquil and ibuprophen in my system.
4. Blood is thicker than water. By Day 3 of the flu, I was feeling almost human and no longer contagious. I could have used another day of rest, but I wasn’t about to cancel a planned family gathering at our house that included a niece I see only once a year. (Not sure what water has to do with this one, but I consumed enough over three days to make it count.)
5. Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Accepting that not everything would be perfect meant consuming a large slice of humble pie. I wanted to be mad, sad and disappointed over being sick for Christmas, but I knew how lucky I was to be surrounded by people I love. Others suffered so much more during this holiday season, and I knew this would pass. There will be other Christmases.
One casualty of those unplanned sick days was the final Christmas Memory written by one of my favorite people — my husband’s Aunt Emily. I intended to post it on Christmas eve, but it’s still the holiday season, so I’ll share it with you now. Emily is the family poet and the author of a sweet little book about one of her special grandsons. Enjoy.
THE GIFTS AND THE PRESENCE
I love Christmas…..the music, the tree, the decorating, sometimes pulling my hair out to find the right gift. I’ m not like those organized people who start shopping in January…no, I don’t shop until I’m in the mood, which is usually the middle December (if it snows) I seem to shop better under pressure and snow!
Christmas is of course, much different for me now than it was when I was a child, but I’m sure as I accept the change and the new traditions, that there is still plenty of Christmas left for me. As I think back over the years and the Chritmas memories, there are many. With seventy Christmases under your belt, you tend to remember quite a few.
There was the year my sister and I quietly snuck into mom and dad’s room and peeked under their bed. Sure enough, there were our dolls, just like we had asked Santa for. They were exactly alike, except, one with a blue dress and blond hair, that would be mine, the other wore a pink dress and had brown hair, that would be for my sister. We ooed and aahhed for a bit and then tucked them back safely in their hiding place. It was many years before we actually talked about how that made us feel. We agreed, surprises were a lot more fun than peeking.
One year, I saw only one box with my name on it. It was a good sized box, but, only one. I kept checking each day, but still, just the one box. I thought I had been better than that! After all, my other sisters had plenty of packages, I know because, like I said, I checked everyday! I was probably about 10 or 11 at the time, old enough to know there was someone besides Santa to blame for this. Christmas morning came and I almost dreaded it. I had to act surprised and happy, even if I only got the one gift. My dad made me wait till everyone else was almost done before I could open the box.
What could it be? It had to be a something special.. As I tore at the paper and pulled the box open, dad began to laugh. There were all my gifts, wrapped seperately, all stuffed in this big box. I don’t remember the gifts, but I will never forget the wrapping. Oh, I don’t know, maybe it had something to do with me peeking at the packages in years past.
Can you believe parents would do that sort of thing to a little kid?
I was fortunate enough to be raised in the church and some of my favorite memories are of the wonderful Christmas programs. It was a special time, learning the lines to a play, saying a “piece”, singing songs. It was also a time to dress in that new red taffata skirt that mom made. New patten leather shoes and oh, yes, my very first pair of nylons were purchused so I could look all grown up at the Christmas program!
Over the years the traditions have changed. Christmas with my children holds a treasure house of wonderful memories. Christmas with the grand children and now they are having babies, bringing us great grand babies. This year three new great grand babies joined us on Christmas. Can it get any better?
Some people say Christmas is just for kids but I hope there is some for me too. As the angel of the Lord proclaimed:
“Don’t be afraid. for I bring good news that will bring joy to ALL people. Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you ; he is Christ the Lord.”
That’s what all the commotion is about. That’s what the gifts and the dinners and the family memories are all about. It’s the birthday of Jesus. I don’t think you have to give up one to have the other. I love my Christmas memories, the gifts, the fun, the decorating and, yes, even the shopping. We like to give gifts and if we admit it, we like getting them too. I am one of the lucky ones to have fond memories of Christmas past. I love to make new memories as our little family grows larger each year. Yes I know the true meaning of this HOLY day. It is gifts and presence. The gift of Jesus and His presence at our table, at our home and the reason for the angel on top of the tree.
Christmas may well be for children, with wide eyes of excitement as they anticipate gifts, but I know there is still plenty of Christmas left for me.