As a young girl, I remember the thrill of anticipating Christmas. Immediately after Thanksgiving, Christmas was on everyone’s mind. Holiday lights began appearing on all the houses in my neighborhood, twinkling happily everywhere. My older brother Bill and I spent much of our time trying to find the gifts we knew my mother had hidden from us. We searched everywhere in our 3-story house. Sometimes we were successful and other years we were not, though regardless, it was fun just searching. The weeks dragged but finally, Christmas Eve arrived. My brothers and sisters waited patiently for our Dad to come home on Christmas Eve with a tree for us to decorate. While we waited, my mother and my siblings gathered in the living room stringing popcorn to decorate the tree that would soon arrive. Yes, popcorn. It is funny to think about now, yet it was a precious family tradition. Strings of popcorn curled around us while we reviewed our Christmas wish list. We each talked about what we hoped to find under the tree Christmas morning. We anticipated the delicious turkey dinner Mom would prepare. We all salivated about our favorite pies my Aunt would bring as she did every year. Mincemeat, pumpkin and my favorite, her fabulous lemon meringue. We wondered out loud which of us would have the privilege that year of hanging the angel over the Nativity Manger we set out after the tree was decorated. Baby Jesus would not be placed into the Manger crib until the early hours of the morning. I never saw her do it, but I guessed it was my Mother who placed him in the crib sometime that night. My sisters and I had already selected our holiday outfits to wear to Sacred Heart church in the morning. My parents would attend Midnight Mass. It would be many years before I was old enough to attend the evening ceremony honoring the birth of Christ, I looked forward to the day I would walk the block to church in the icy cold night. There was much excitement around the birth of our dear Lord Jesus. What great memories.
This year will be much different. Yes, I will decorate a tree and string lights, not popcorn, in and around the house. I will wrap gifts to put under the tree. I am planning my dinner which always includes pumpkin pie and 2 dozen deviled eggs, both family favorites. I will put out the manger and recite the Nativity story to my granddaughters (on Christmas Eve). Sadly, I won’t be able to attend a Christmas church service in person. Attending church online is just not the same. I will make the best of a sad situation… I am getting into the spirit of Christmas. I will continue to adapt.
Adapting to reality is vital to thriving. I protested reality early when this Covid-19 lockdown began but that only served to depress me. That and the 8 lbs. I gained. Fortunately, I was able to shake off my blue mood and focus on what was still good and possible. I reminded myself to count my blessings and as I focused on what is good in my life, I rebounded. I reflected on the blessings of good health, my dear family, and good friends. I patted myself on the back for pivoting to virtual workshops so GrowthSkills could continue to minister to others (with the help of Debra and Nicole) I am very happy I still have a job that encourages me daily. I am still able to do my 3 mile walk each morning with my labradoodle, Roxy. I am grateful she can still do one mile of my 3-mile walk, at 14 she is slowing down. I am grateful I lost all the 8 lbs. I gained, before Thanksgiving and I have kept it off. As the weather turns cold, I am grateful for my furnace. I am grateful my daughter and granddaughters live nearby, and we can celebrate the Birth of Christ together. Reviewing my long gratitude list helps keep me in a positive mind frame.
I hope you recall your favorite Christmas memories and create a list of all the good relationships you possess and your blessings. I also hope you adapt to this new reality and make this a very Merry Christmas! Nothing can steal the hope & joy in our hearts unless we let it. For believers, Christmas is about the Birth of Jesus Christ, first and foremost. This pandemic or economic downturn does not change that fact. I hope all of you continue to be excited about this blessed spiritual celebration. Even though this has been a very strange and challenging year, we still have a wonderful Savior, and he was not surprised at what happened in 2020. He is still in control. I am adapting and choosing to make this a wonderful Christmas! I hope you do the same. Decorate! Rejoice! Celebrate!
Have a Very Merry Christmas. I am praying that this New Year brings a more normal life to all of us.