When I was a kid I expected a LOT from Christmas. Nevertheless, my mother did her best to calm down my expectations:
- 1969: “Don’t expect much for Christmas this year, we don’t have much money.”
- 1970: “Don’t expect much for Christmas this year, the Avon lady is low on cologne for nine-year-olds.”
- 1971: “Don’t expect much for Christmas, there’s starving kids in India.”
- 1972: “Don’t expect much for Christmas this year, your father and I are tired.”
- 1973: “Don’t expect much for Christmas this year, we think Nixon is going to resign.”
- 1974: “Don’t expect much for Christmas this year, your aunt and uncle and cousins are coming over.”
- 1975: “Don’t expect much for Christmas, you and your brothers have acted like a bunch of idiots all year and you’re driving me nuts.”
Christmas was simple when I was a kid in elementary school. Back in the 1960s, our public school celebrated Christmas. We sang carols, put up trees and decorations, exchanged gifts (I probably brought a can of pumpkin pie mix) and, on the day before Christmas break, we had a HUGE party. All of the kids, kindergarten through sixth grade, gathered in the gymnasium to watch The Nutcracker Suite movie. I didn’t understand the movie much and, although I was a little disturbed by the dancing mice, I pushed through because Christmas was coming.
In spite of Mom’s persistence and in spite of what was going on in the world, Christmas always arrived. Even the years when the gifts were few, or we got things we didn’t want or couldn’t use, things were good. My three brothers and I seemed to temporarily set aside our issues. Somehow the innocence of childhood was able to forgive and move on during Christmas. We didn’t have money to buy each other gifts in those days, so the least we could do was to not whack each other for 24 hours. And that season, the season of not whacking each other, made us feel a little bit closer. After all, it was Christmas.
We always opened our gifts on Christmas morning. We weren’t like those progressive families who opened gifts on Christmas Eve. Maybe it was because Santa couldn’t make it to our end of town until later, but whatever the reason we were told to wait until morning. One Christmas I got up at 3:00 a.m. and found my parents (Not Santa!!!) putting gifts under the tree. At 3:00 a.m. it wasn’t time to question what my parents were doing with Santa’s gifts — I was sent directly to bed. Later, at 4:30 a.m., all four boys were out in the living room dismantling the nicely-wrapped packages of games, socks, toys, and Avon decorative cologne decanters. Even though Mom and Dad were barely awake and the room was waist-deep in discarded bows and wrapping, and the family dog was choking on candy canes behind the couch, the mess didn’t matter because it was Christmas.
So what’s the point of all my rambling? Maybe it’s that if our eyes are open we will be able to look past the messy parts of life and see Christmas. If our eyes our open, a Christmas gift of reconciliation — person to person and person to God — can occur. If we open our eyes like children, we can find hope and life, we can find grace, we can find Christ this Christmas.
Follow my blog on Facebook, Twitter @croso1, at crosoblog.com or have a copy sent directly to your email. Calvin G. Roso © December 2015