I haven't forgotten my question of a number of days ago about what Christmas is really about. In fact, I'm thinking quite a lot about it. Perhaps obviously, I have concluded that it certainly needn't be about the gifts - Matthew was perfectly happy with the one small gift he received this morning. When I think about what is important to me on this day, the thing that keeps coming back to my mind time and again is that Christmas is a time for remembering:
- From a Christian perspective, clearly Christmas is about remembering the birth of Christ and the reason for his coming as that tiny babe in a manger. Historical evidence acknowledges the fact of that baby's existence; but it is my faith that recollects who and what he really was.
- Christmas is also a time for remembering family: past and present; with us and no longer with us. In addition to thinking about my siblings today (whom I will see in the next day or two), and in addition to being with my parents this afternoon, I missed my grandma (Omi) today, though she has been gone since 1995; I also missed my mother-in-law, whose death this year left a hole in our lives.
- Christmas is about remembering the traditions of the past - for it is the recollection and accompanying nostalgia of our memories that prompt us to continue or develop our own family customs and rituals.
- Christmas is about remembering milestones in life: How many of us can recollect stages of our lives by the way in which we experienced Christmas in a given year? There was the Christmas that I, as a teenager, was too sick to go on a church trip to Banff and I was devastated by the occurrence; there was the Christmas that marked my first time away from home over the holidays; there was the Christmas that I became engaged to be married, and another Christmas, a year later, when I was on my honeymoon as a newly married woman; there was the Christmas where my Omi was no longer with us and our family traditions changed from that point onwards; there is the Christmas after Matthew was born that marked the first time I became responsible for beginning the traditions that will shape my own child's memories of Christmas; there was the Christmas season when I wondered if Geoff and I were going to make it, and the subsequent ones where I was so thankful that we would; and there is this Christmas, which I will remember as concluding a year marked in our families by death, marriage separation, cancer, a bankruptcy that almost caused Geoff and me to lose two children, and job loss.
So, whatever else Christmas is really about, I have had time this year to remember.
I wish you a joyful Christmas as you experience your own recollections of the season; I do hope that the day has been a good one. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!