I’ve been thinking about how Christmas pasts, way past, when I was a child, held so many expectations. How it was all about me and the tree and the gifts and always feeling poor. Oranges and nuts in the stockings a few toys.
Friends down the street got a bike each year and two to ten new outfits. Pretty pajamas and the latest most greatest toy. Always comparing.
We got a box from the Tinsleys. Dear friends of my mothers who always gave cute things like stationary or toys that last a week. Those were usually the Christmas Eve gift.
We had an advent calendar made of felt and stockings with our names. Those were from the Tinsleys too. Our adopted grandparents I guess. Though they lived 1000 miles a way and I don’t remember their faces only their packages that came at Christmas.
Did I know, did I care that Jesus came?
I don’t remember caring too much. I remember advent candles pink and purple and lighting one each Sunday. The significance was never taught. We took turns pulling the felt figures out of the little numbered pockets and pinning it to the felt Christmas tree. I tried to arrange it so I could open the one on Christmas day; A big square with 25 on it, pulling that off revealed the outline of Mary with the baby Jesus. I remember going to Mass on Christmas Eve or sometimes Christmas day.
Santa signed the tags in my mother’s hand writing. One Christmas I found the gifts in the closet behind my parents bed. I saw the sleeping bags and fisher price toys for my little brother and sister. I pretended I didn’t see I thought I would get in trouble. I was always afraid of getting in trouble. But I never did.
It would have done me good to get in trouble when I was little. It might have saved me getting in trouble when I was big.
One Christmas my mother complained about my Aunt sending the notice of giving a gift to someone poorer than us in our name.
One year my mother sewed braided wreaths for friends. And every year she made cranberry bread from the recipe on the ocean spray cranberry bag for all her friends.
I don’t know where my father was during Christmas’ probably sitting on the couch with his bourbon and a cigar.
I remember one dark Christmas morning sitting on the couch at 4 am after Santa had come. The most magical time with the Christmas tree lights the only light and the presents all around. That Christmas there was a big stuffed horse, big enough to sit on.
So while I always felt “poor” I never really imagined more.
But now I know I am not poor but very rich indeed, I do have more than I could ever imagine, I have Christ the greatest gift. I have children who want to give more than receive, though that is still a work in progress, we all have our days.
Sometimes that voice of Christmas past whispers in the dark, you are still poor and don’t have enough, you never will be rich in this world and it tempts me deep to be discontent. But, I know, despite that occasional whisper, that happiness is not wrapped in paper and strings, that joy is not found under a tree on Christmas morning, that true contentment is not found in the abundance of things.