Monday, November 22, 2010

A New Kind of Christmas


Christmas has gotten tricky, hasn't it? It isn't what it used to be. It is what it is. So I wonder what makes so many of us long for what is was, missing the magic that's available in this particular Holiday Now. 

To be clear, I'm using "Christmas" kind of generically here, because it's what I had as a kid, and what I still have, although in a completely different way. Of course I realize there are loads of other winter holidays to be observed. I'm not counting those out. I'm just speaking my own language. 

We all have our childhood Christmas memories, good or bad. Mine happen to be good. Really good. Mom was a master at Creating the Magic, from the silly music, to the candy pink tree, to the home made cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Santa always filled the entire living room with gifts for my sisters and me. It was a wonderful, magical superabundance that still makes me happy. That's some powerful magic, to last all these years.

The years in between my childhood and having my own children were sort of lost as far as Christmas went. Some years I went home, but magic like that can't be sustained forever. Kids grow up. Moms get tired. The responsibility and effort involved are huge and exhausting. I know that now. But then in the years when my kids were little, I think I managed to pull off some pretty good Christmas Magic of my own. I hope I taught them how to do it for their own kids someday. 

But now we're in the in between years again. My kids are all grown up, none are married, and there are no grandbabies--yet! Julia is having a baby in the spring, so in two or three more Christmases he-or-she will be old enough for all of us to sprinkle with Christmas Magic. Until then, we have to get creative for ourselves and make a new kind of Christmas.

Our trip to Ethiopia two years ago changed the way Rick and I see Christmas, and life too, for that matter. We were there for three weeks, up close and personal with a kind of poverty we really could not have imagined. Landing back in Denver, greeted by a snow storm and Holiday Madness everywhere, we looked around us and thought, this is obscene. We just couldn't do it anymore. Since then we've pared it down to simple gifts for our kids, and donations and volunteering around town, with friends and gatherings to keep us feeling festive and connected. 

This year, none of our kids will be "home". I worry that they don't come home because they don't trust a Christmas without huge amounts of stuff. They know we won't do that anymore, and I'm sure they understand how it makes no sense to go into debt every year buying things nobody will even remember the following year. But I wish they'd trust us to still create a beautiful, meaningful holiday for them. We'd still do that if they were here. We'd just do it differently.

I guess it's up to them to find their own way and their own magic now. Maybe it won't happen until they have someone else to create the magic for. I've been on both sides of that now, as a child, and as a parent, and both are pretty good. But now it's a time for something different, something smaller, warmer, more personal. For me now, it's not at all about Christmas morning. It's about the entire season, starting now, and including Thanksgiving, and the opportunities to bring light into the dark corners. It's about getting out there and seeing friends and smiling at strangers and feeling the Magic wherever I find it.

Yesterday we put some lights on a tree that grows right outside the trailer window. We'll add to it, and maybe put some birdseed ornaments on it too. Last night, the full moon broke through the clouds long enough to shine down on our little tree--a moment of magic that did not go unnoticed. And during the night a dusting of snow fell, and continues to fall this morning. Yes, it's beginning to look, and feel, a lot like Christmas. Not past, but now, in the present, which is a really great gift.

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Comment on this post to be entered in this week's Gratitude Bracelet Giveaway. One comment per post, please!


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19 comments:

Right Here Right Now said...

Yesterday, I was walking by a Christmas tree lot that's getting ready to sell. The smell of the trees jerked me back to my childhood. Oh, the power of smell....

Thank you for making the world a better place and I LOVE your blog as well as beads....

hugs,
Franceenie

Merikay said...

I wrote a long comment but it disappeared before I could post it. I'l probably try again later.

Patty said...

I hear you, Kim. I wish more people could get closer to this concept myself. It's difficult when small children are involved, but you do want to somehow help them understand the concept of giving from the heart, and there are so many ways to do this.

For some years now I have been giving my family gifts through the Heifer International group (http://www.heifer.org/), which gives some kind of farm animal (and training) to people in need, who also repay the gift by sharing their animal's offspring with others. Their concept and international work is wonderful, but there are many worthy groups out there in addition to this one.

Rick Vanderburg said...

My father volunteered for Heifer for years traveling all over the world helping to deliver animals. Kima nd I still give our kids goats and bees for Chistmas.
Thanks, Patty

Anonymous said...

I do love this time of year.
Suzie

PA said...

The best Christmas I remember was in 1965 when I made TONS of Barbie doll clothes for my (then) 7 and 8 year old daughters. I got scraps of material from lots of friends so the girls wouldn't recognize them as being from me. To this day both daughters remember it as their best Christmas too and all it cost was a little time. Polly Anna

Carla Beyerlein said...

Thank you for this post, Kim. I've been trying to convince my husband for a few years now that we don't need to get so much "stuff" for the kids for
Christmas. He grew up with a single mom and never had a huge, full of
Gifts type of Christmas when he was a kid, so always wants to overdo
It for our kids. I think he is finally coming around, and realizes that
The "stuff" doesn't matter- it's all about making memories, and all that requires is
Us to be together enjoying each others company. : )

: )

Bearfoot Art said...

I LOVE this photo!! Very artistic. All the best to you. I follow your blog and your words have helped me. Thanks!

wmt1019 said...

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, all the magic, non of the junk : ), health and adventure in 2011.

ari_1965 said...

Ooh, homemade cinnamon rolls. Does it get better than that?

VendalaSchmendala said...

Christmas is also a time of laying fallow and allowing one's creative self to be reborn. The darkness will give way to the light; but there is much richness in this dark realm - partake deeply!
-Wendy

Anonymous said...

Believing in the magic and the reason for the holiday season make me thankful for all I have and have experienced in life. I continue to be inspired by your artistry and adventures! Thanks a bunch !
April Nottingham

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the season seems to have lost all of its religious meaning-both Christmas and Hannukkah-they shouldn't be all about THINGS we don't need but think we do.
sara

Anonymous said...

I wish we were neighbors or sit by the bon fire kinna close friends, I really think you would have liked being my friend,my thoughts parallel yours.I love your heart and thoughts.You are such a warm person and I love that you share your thoughts with all of us.I am "grateful" that I met you 4 years ago and that I get to keep in touch thru blogs and emails.Your grateful bracelet is awesome,there is so much to be grateful,family is the best.xoxo Kathy Nardi

Sue said...

It is a different kind of celebration without the little ones. We love to just absorb the music and think about the meaning.

Renee said...

Very "grateful" to have discovered your blog!

Zoe Nelson said...

Thank you for this post. It's time that we re-examine our traditions and pare down to only what feels best to each of us.

Carlene said...

I think it's finding magic in the mundane that allows you to experience a different kind of celebration. We all need to try that more. It's easy to forget what's really important.

m.e. said...

My childhood Christmas was a celebration of stuff!.As a Mom I created those too-many toy mornings for my children too.My family also had a tradition of collecting ornaments.Our collection runs the gamut from painted macaroni to rare antique.Almost all mark a special trip or event in our lives.An ornament makes a wonderful souvenir.Small,usually not expensive and you'll actually use it when you get home! Most didn't start life with the idea they would someday hang on a tree. A special shell or small art treasure needs only string or wire to become an ornament !!! Same concept as what makes a bead. Just needs a hole right? m.e. :)