Morning Coffee: The Christmas Spirit

ChristmasThanksgiving is over and now begins the mad rush to Christmas. What we need to remind ourselves when the planning and gift shopping panic sets in, when the constant countdown reminders begin to haunt us, is that this is not what Christmas is all about. For those of us who profess to be Christians, Christmas is still, at its very core, about the birth of Jesus Christ. But, for all of us, no matter what we believe, Christmas is about gathering with our friends and families to laugh, sing, possibly drink too much, and definitely once more eat too much before embarking on our annual diet pledge.

In my novel, “Mary Bishop”, my heroine finds herself alone at Christmas while the pains of her husband’s death are still raw. She laments the loss of her husband, her children, parents and siblings. She remembers how wonderful Christmas was before and tells herself there is no reason to ever celebrate it again.

While Christmas growing up always began with church it didn’t truly start for her and her brothers and sister until Mother’s Christmas feast was laid before them that afternoon. The whole house smelled like heaven and the memory still made her mouth water. There would be a turkey roasted to a crispy brown, golden yams swimming in butter, carrots baked in a honey glaze, fruit compote, and sweets the likes of which they never saw any other time of year. After dinner, their bellies nearly bursting, they’d take turns being blindfolded and see who they could capture first. No one could ever capture her and she laughed now at the thought. Not a tap of the foot or a creaking floorboard betrayed her position, nor did she give into the temptation to giggle, like Lucy, when their brothers’ hands came a little too close…

She continued those same traditions after her marriage to Earl and the birth of their son, Ander, adding traditions of their own as the years went by. There were the candy sticks Earl handed out to all the children in the congregation every Christmas. There was the tree with its beautiful candles and decorations they modeled after the illustration they saw of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their children, although much smaller than the royal tree, and the decorations not near as grand. Ander spent hours searching the woods for anything he could fashion into an ornament; a pine cone or an abandoned bird’s nest, long lengths of ivy they would drape around the tree, clusters of berries to tie to the end of branches, anything to brighten their holiday. But Ander was gone now, too…

 Everyone was gone. Everyone but her…

 Mary wiped her eyes. They were tears of both happiness and sadness. She could see no reason for a feast only she would eat and no reason for a tree only she would gaze upon; yet, there were still the children. She knew Earl’s candy sticks were the only treat some of them received on Christmas and she couldn’t bear to disappoint them.”

Mary forces herself to set aside her grief and loneliness for the sake of the local children and, in doing so, sets in motion her journey to a new life and happiness. That’s what Christmas is about, finding joy in what we can do for others. It can be as simple as buying one less gift for someone who already has plenty and putting that money saved into the Salvation Army’s red kettle, or baking an extra batch of cookies (giving up half of what you really don’t need to eat yourself?) to share with the elderly couple next door. Food cupboards are in desperate need of donations and your local soup kitchen might need a helping hand serving Christmas dinner to those in need of a hot meal. Take your children caroling at a nearby nursing home. The residents won’t care if you sing out of tune and your children will get the chance to see there’s more to the season than whether or not they receive the newest electronic device from Santa. You won’t have to look far to find a long list of ways to give back. Find your own Christmas spirit.

Advertisements

One thought on “Morning Coffee: The Christmas Spirit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s