Christmas Isn’t Found in a Store

Last week we were watching the old Grinch cartoon when  my 8 year old said to me, “Mom, Christmas isn’t found in a store. Some adults don’t get that.” I was kind of surprised that she picked that up, but she was right. It’s not found in a store, and it’s often the adults who don’t get it.

I thought surely that that idea of Christmas not being about the gifts would be lost on the kids once they were flooded with gifts from grandparents, parents, and others. But it wasn’t. Yes, the gifts were fun, and a couple of the kids are completely enamored with them at this point. But the things we talked about  yesterday, the glimpses into their hearts, they were so beautiful. One  reminded me that gifts are not what it’s about. Neither is tradition.  One realized that gifts, no matter how many or what kind, don’t really satisfy that longing in her heart. She’d rather have time with people. Relationships. Sharing life together. Where do they get such wisdom?

We had the flu this week, so not much of the traditional festivities of Christmas day happened. I was disappointed as I love routine and tradition. I grew up in a family where ceremony surrounded so much of our lives, and this doing little for Christmas was hard for me. But what else was there to do when the kids were all running fevers and finding the days away? We still opened gifts and had short visits with some family, but it was not the same.

Not the same. But I learned some new lessons this year. I learned how to embrace the imperfections of life. Not only to tolerate them, but to take them in and love them. They are part of life whether I like it or not, and they require me to trust that God’s in charge instead of me. Oh, that trusting. It’s hard, but I’m slowly finding comfort in it.  I remembered the humble day of Jesus’ birth. I’m sure everything didn’t go just as planned for Mary that day, and yet it was a beautiful time because it was just what God had planned. I learned this year to slow down, stop worrying about school and parties and shopping, and start spending my efforts or the people in my life.  This morning, the day after Christmas, I’m not feeling let down. I’m feeling refreshed actually, and it didn’t come from a store.


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