Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Christmas Interrupted

I can't believe Christmas is over.   This year, Advent seemed so long but the
Christmas season, so short. I almost feel betrayed, like the kid who wrote Santa asking for a pony and woke up on Christmas morning to find no pony, only a broomstick horse with a mane made from leftover yarn and a head stuffed with yesterday's newspaper.

Christmas Day here found me mostly in bed, suffering from one of the many flu-type illnesses spreading across this third-sickest state in the nation.  The day after Christmas, I felt well enough to pull out the Christmas china that didn't get used on Christmas Day, and put together a celebratory Christmas breakfast.   Just as we all sat down to enjoy our eggnog French toast, the phone rang.  It was the kind of call you never want to get;  a dear family member had been found dead that morning. He wasn't much older than me, and was like a brother to my husband.  He was a groomsman in our wedding.  In that moment, it felt like Christmas was over.   

Four days later, we were heading north, making the 500-mile trip to say goodbye, and watching the thermometer on the dashboard sink almost as low our moods.   We gathered with family, held onto each other, and tried to be mindful of our two little boys who didn't understand it all and saw the trip as a Christmas vacation climaxed by a hotel stay and a swim in the hotel pool.  

We arrived back home in time for the Epiphany, and tried to get back on track. A few more gifts were opened, we watched Christmas movies, and baked sweet treats.  But then Tom had a business trip, schools resumed,  and it was back to "business as usual" for him and the world.   Where did our Christmas go?

Today, I took down the Christmas tree and other decorations.  It was quiet in the house, much quieter than the day had been when we'd all gathered together to put it up. Tom was at work and the boys in preschool after a month-long break.  The old routine was back and Christmas was over for another year.   Why did I feel so cheated?

This past Sunday, our last day of the Christmas season, we had a bit of warm weather and I craved a walk in the forest after all the chaos, sickness, and travel of the past three weeks.   We hiked a trail near our home, a trail that was not in any way remarkable, just a path through the woods along a small stream.  Instead of leading to a sweeping vista or dynamic waterfall, this trail offered us simply a grove of hemlocks as striking as any cathedral and an aroma as intoxicating as any incense.   And as I walked along, I began to realize that it was the ordinariness of this trail that made it so beautiful.

Christmas is over and it went nothing like I thought it would.  My Christmas had been interrupted by the unexpected, the tragic, and the mundane.   And as I removed the last ornament from the tree and boxed it up for another year, I felt a sense of regret for not getting the chance to enjoy the season more.   Now, it is time for me to go back to the ordinariness of my life.  

But perhaps I had overlooked the most important gift I'd been given this Christmas;  the gift that came to me on that last day of Christmas this past Sunday, as I walked along a quiet stream and looked up.  It was simply to be reminded that what is ordinary is what I should look forward to the most.


  1. So sorry for your loss. Good post, though. Very insightful, too. I hope Ordinary Time brings many blessings to you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Kerri. Our loss will be heaven's gain. Happy Ordinary Time to you too!