Christmas Present.

In my book, “Christmas” is one of those hot button words. It conjures up all kinds of swirling bits. Memories, happy and sad, vividly etched for a lifetime. Traditions loved and those we vow to never do again. Foods and smells from the kitchen that remind our noses we are now in FA LA LA LA LA mode. YUM or YUCK!

Our family used to pack up, the minute school let out, and drive 8+ hours to my grandmother’s house deep in the Mississippi country. I can’t remember a single time we had Christmas in our own house, or a tree, or presents under our own tree on Christmas morning…we were always rushing to get somewhere else. A little metaphor for the rest of my life.

One year, my mother, who taught kids, too sick to attend school….so she drove from home to home all over the city, walking into who-knows-what kind of highly emotional situation with each child…she was so fried, when school was out and my father was revving his engines….that she threw all our clothes in the trunk of the car…without suitcases. It looked like the washer and dryer had thrown up in the back of the car. We thought it was hysterically funny. For the next 45 years, almost on cue, signaling the start of Christmas season for her, my mother apologized to us about that. It took becoming an adult, feeling my own deep sense of hysteria (not the funny kind) over the high performance expectations surrounding the holidays, that I got it.

Then, there was Aunt Ethel, who was my grandmother’s sister and “caretaker”. Aunt Ethel, a behemoth of a woman, who clicked her false teeth in time to Lawrence Welk, pumped the water “out back” so that there would be running water in the house for all of us. She did everything. Just ask her. Or, wait. No need to ask. She relived the War & Peace version of almost everything she had EVER done in her whole life. But her gall bladder operation, the one she had in 1952, was her finest moment….vivid details, repeated verbatim….usually just as we were eating.

Normal. That’s simply someone you don’t know vey well.

Christmas just seems to kick up the family dust a bit more than usual, doesn’t it?

It’s a great reminder about expectations. Those pesky things with white picket fences around them. The gift of guilts from Christmas’s past. Family folklore for years to come.

So, what about this year? This Christmas…..present.

I bet your plans are made. No turning back now.
We’re goin’ in.

But I wonder if this year would be a good year to give ourselves a chance to take stock. To really be present to those people and things and traditions that might need some re-tooling. What if this Christmas, we could be gifting ourselves with insights about what we really DO love to do, who we really DO love to be with, what we could DO differently next year to bring a new focus to the season.

Last I looked, Christmas is supposed to be about the birth of our Lord and Savior. Not the best price on a 55″ flat screen. Or, if all the decorations made it up in time for the party.
CHRIST-mas…..if we were thinking in Spanish for a moment…..it could mean, MORE CHRIST.
More peach on earth. Less spin. More compassion. Less verbal and social combat. More kindness.

How could the gift of our PRESENCE be gift enough?

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