The Christmas Spirit

We practicing or cultural Christians celebrate next week the coming of God in the form of a baby, a child, yet having children of my own brings the traditions of Christmas to that of simply celebrating childhood.  The simple faith of a child learning the Christmas story with images of angels, a guiding star, shepherds and a serene nativity is as sweet and innocent as their believing in flying reindeer and a jolly guy trickling down the chimney.  The daunting opportunity to mold my children's experiences and share with them wonder of Christmas exhilarates my spirit and helps me to feel more deeply the  meaning of this holy season.


From Christmas pajamas, gingerbread houses, church choir performances to visiting Santa, we try to experience the season.
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 We exchanged Christmas presents as a family on Saturday, minus BJ who wanted to adopt a family for his Christmas present.
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The girls were given their first American Girl dolls from Baba. Anna Cate was ecstatic!
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We visited Santa and Molly refused to sit in his lap by crawling and clawing her way into a ball on BJ's neck, so we have a picture of Anna Cate.

Yet in all these happenings of the season, I am afraid the Christmas spirit and the passion to celebrate my children has been dulled with a deep grief over the tragedy in Connecticut.  Those children and their families is the last thought on my mind when I go to sleep at night, when I wake at night and the first thing I think about when I wake up. I'm sure a big part of it is because I'm a teacher (I wrote a bit about it on my teacher blog here)  My heart is so heavy and any thing I do for or with Anna Cate, I think about those 20 families. I'd like to think it is because I'm a loving, sensitive teacher and human being but I'm sure that it is also because Anna Cate is in first grade.

We made the gingerbread house last Friday night. Anna Cate counted down to Friday for days, so looking forward to this family event. I wonder what holiday plans those children had.

I saw their faces and  I see hers. I think about how Christmas is so much about children  that it breaks my heart knowing that there are families burying their children the week before.  I think about the excitement for a holiday weekend on the minds of those children and their dreams of Christmas and of life taken from them in moments of fear and carnage.

I never keep Anna Cate's work that comes home from school in the sparkly "take home folder" (I do keep the pictures, art work and stories), but today I lingered a little more on the letters and the numbers in the midst of a messy counter, a busy life. I haven't been able to throw it away quite yet.

The shadow on this picture is sort of like how I'm looking at so much these days. I'm thinking about those families and connected with this grief.
I thought about all those backpacks that will be final remembrances of precious little people.  I imagine that not much separates their lives from ours.

One night this week, my heart was so heavy as I lay down with the girls and I thought that in a way, I can't imagine it hurting any more if it were my own, which is ridiculous, right? But I think motherhood deepens my experience in relation to humanity.  As that expression goes about your heart wandering outside of your body, maybe when we truly allow ourselves to experience this common thread of humanity, we let ourselves celebrate and hurt for our fellow man as well. 

Maybe it is motherhood........ or maybe it is the way God lives in human hearts, the way Christians believe He came to the world in the form of a baby.  Perhaps celebrating the coming of God to the world and to our hearts include the exhilarating joy as well as the deep pain for each other's tribulations. After all, this baby grew up to say when asked what was the greatest commandment:

37  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -- Matthew 22: 37-39 

So maybe my celebrating the wonder of childhood this Christmas lending itself to deep grief has not robbed me of the spirit of Christmas, after all.  
The divine's presence both in our world and in our hearts connects human souls. This seems to be the story the children learn.... that God sought a connection to humanity so he sent his Son in the form of a baby.
In the spirit of this story, the nativity where kings kneel with shepherds beneath angels, I am symbolically kneeling in sorrow with my fellow man. And I'm thinking that is Christmas, too. 

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” ― Charles DickensA Christmas Carol


Anonymous said…
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