Like many people, I suffer from unrealistic expectations during the holidays. I want Christmas to be perfect. I like to start the holidays early and perfectly time out my activities, baking, wrapping, and movie watching so that I can properly enjoy the season. As you can imagine that rarely, if ever, goes to plan.
Adding to my holiday expectations is the feeling that everyone should be happy and healthy. This too, rarely happens as I think it should. Stress is abundant, it is cold and flu season, and the realities of life do not take a vacation during the month of December.
Despite the desire for the perfect holiday, the nature of Christmas itself is that so much of what we feel is tied up in the memories of Christmases Past. Those memories, as all memories, are bittersweet. Children grow up and are not the adorable tiny toddlers taking in the Christmas magic they see around them. We lose those important to us and songs or images of Christmases Past trigger emotions that range from melancholy to heartbreaking.
And when we are in the midst of a crisis of whatever nature, Christmas Present can somehow lose its luster. We feel the need to be happy and celebratory, we expect that the season has no room for heartache or sadness and we might be tempted to wish the present away, to chalk this up to a bad year because of a difficult time, or to lament the fact that it is not the season we longed for or expected.
I find myself in that exact position this holiday. My family is dealing with both loss this year and current struggles with unexpected news. I reached out to others to see how they dealt with sorrow and grief during the season and found that many people are dealing with similar issues and seemed relieved to voice them. Opinions ranged from keeping things simple to going all out and leaning in to everything Christmas has to offer. I think the take away is to feel what you feel, acknowledge that things are not, and will never be perfect, even in this season and be here now.
And as for – as Dickens would say – Christmas Yet to Come? Well, that is not our burden to bear. To quote Mother Teresa “We must never get into the habit of being preoccupied with the future. There is no reason to do so. God is there.”
I pray that all who are hurting, who are mourning, who are worried, who are sad or lonely, but who are fortunate enough to have the immeasurable blessing of family and friends can feel the peace and love that this season can bring. May Christmas Present give you the ultimate gift of spending time with those you love.
-Karri Temple Brackett
December 21, 2019