“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” – Charlie Brown
The tree is up. Lights are hung. A collection of Santa Clauses grace a front table. Twinkling fairy lights glow from the bookcase. Christmas has come with all its greenery and delight, except…except everything is different this year. Since our move we have had to adjust to all types of changes, including our images of Christmas.
As I was packing up Christmas last year I knew we would be moving, so I carefully went through all my decorations and packed a box to be donated to a local charity. I hoped someone else would grow to love my old nativity or the large metal reindeer that used to stand guard at the front door. My precious Mary Englebreit Santa flag was gifted to my step-daughter and the little lighted tree to my son. A former student came one Sunday afternoon to load our artificial tree in the back of her boyfriend’s red truck. I whittled down Christmas to just a few plastic bins.
I unpacked a few decorations before Thanksgiving, pondering placement in our new, smaller home. Where would I put everything? In our old house I arranged things in a certain way every year: Santas on the mantel, blue ornaments on the tree in the living room, a string of silver bells on the hallway mirror, glass ornaments in crystal bowls. This year I would have to rethink everything. Slowly, I began to pull out familiar items, not really knowing where they would go. For a moment, a sense of melancholy swept over me. So much had changed in the past year, and now Christmas. Instead of my usual excitement, I felt sad, as if I was drifting through a foggy night. I took a breath. I would tackle this just as I had tackled everything else in this move. I then spied new places to tuck my angels, snowmen, and Santas. My blue ornaments found their way to a humble little evergreen out by the front porch. The vintage red and gold balls still fill the Tiffany glass bowl given to me by my dear friend Nancy. Last weekend we found a tree farm out in the country, and that afternoon while I watched a hokey Hallmark movie and arranged my ornaments, my husband figured the placement of the outside lights. Christmas did arrive, despite the locale shift.
Webster defines tradition as, “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom). A belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.” Sometimes we are forced to rethink our traditions. Often the old ones don’t fit as we grow and move. The past doesn’t work any longer, so we look to fresh stories. This year I am reimagining the old and the new. My customary patterns have been rearranged, and I am learning to accept this passage as an important challenge as I settle into this community. It is as if I’m a child again, seeing Christmas with fresh, almost innocent eyes. Every light sparkles and each carol sings. I’m embracing it all.
“Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale
“We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder