Not everyone loves Christmas, but I do. Not all of the beads on the string are beautiful, in fact, several, especially the early ones with my mother, whose anxiety spiked with the pressure of creating a good Christmas, were pretty rough. Somehow our father and my three brothers and me always found a way to enjoy the day anyway. We’d just move around her, avoiding the whirlpool of her energy so that we wouldn’t be pulled down with her. It wasn’t her fault, she was just trying so hard for it to be wonderful that she was miserable.
Among other things, Christmas is about expectation. There is no other day of the year that has so many hopes pinned on it. If those hopes are not too extreme, it reminds us that good things are coming; that life gives to us as Her children, so that whatever suffering we’re experiencing, there is the possibility of relief. Each of our lives is unique, each of us suffers, and at Christmas we’re reminded that good can and will come.
Mother made a Santa suit for my father. We’d have poor-boy sandwiches, then father would disappear and reappear as Santa Claus. Since I was the oldest by the time this ritual was enacted, I already knew who was under the suit, but my younger brothers did not. He’d come in with a very loud, and hardy, “Ho HO HO” and scare the youngest of them half to death. I loved that and felt quite grown up to know the secret.
The tree was always beautiful, the gifts, thoughtful, and the food–Mother being French she was a very good cook–was yummy.
In those early years, my favorite thing was to lie down under the tree and gaze up at the lights above my head, when I’d give in to my imagination of flights to the stars; a habit that has continued through all the beads of my Christmas’s.
So, I do love Christmas; for it’s magic, it’s hope, it’s gratitude for our connection to others, no matter how challenging their particular nature.
My favorite beads were when my own children were born and I could make it magical for them. I’d learned not to worry over it; Mother had taught me the danger of too high expectations. My husband would wear the Santa suit and I could watch their eyes light up like the Christmas tree with the fun of it all.