Jingle, jingle, jingle

Let the season begin…

I am an Advent person. I am a wait in the darkness for the light person. I love the time of reflection, the darkness, the flicker of hope, the waiting and the resolution.  When I worked in church, I loved the scripture linked to the season and sharing it with the kids and adults I ministered with there.  I loved sharing it with my family.

I have at times in my life even been a holiday person.  I used to bake for Christmas every year.  I love the idea of gifts from my hands made with love and thought.  I love that the gifts taste delicious and when I returned each year with the treats, I was thrilled that I made someone happy with something I created for them. I love spending times with friends and family during the holidays.  I love the down time, the football, getting Christmas and holiday cards, the sparkling lights, and I so, so love a beautiful Christmas tree.

So, I think I’m a holiday person…well…but I’m not so sure sometimes.

I’m not so good at the gift thing.  I have never been.  It stresses me out to no end.  I worry, I plan, I fret some more and then I buy.  I don’t buy many gifts…because I’m not real good at it, but my boys…

My boys. My good boys.  My naughty boys.  I am it for them. I am their Santa.  For the first seven years of parenting, my very thoughtful husband considered my weakness and stress about gifts and did all the shopping.  He’d offer me ideas (to help me feel a part of it all), I’d concur, and he’d take care of it.  He just took care of it.  There wasn’t any stress about it, he enjoyed it.  He took care of the kids, he took care of me, of us and even hung the Christmas lights to boot!  Everyone was happy on Christmas morning and I was relaxed and thrilled with his choices and so grateful to him.

Well, he’s been gone for a bit now.  I’ve had several years to adjust and become the shopper of note.  In the early years, it was not too, too hard because the boys were little and their wish list was long.  They wanted toys…Legos, cars, helicopters, and all the regular little boy stuff.  I always still felt the vacancy each Christmas morning when we got up and opened gifts though…they weren’t the thoughtfully chosen gifts that Dave would have found.  They were just items off a list.  They would never make up for the one gift they wanted so dearly that I could never give them…having their daddy back…having their daddy here to set up the electric cars up with them every year or play with the new stuff with or…or…or

So, now my shopping challenge carries the added weight that daddy will never be here on Christmas again…hard to buy anything that will make up for it…

So, every year I agonize.  My guilt makes me want to break my very low funded bank.  My conscience wants my boys to be advent people, I want them to see beyond the darkness into the light, but I know that is not something I can force or wrap in a pretty box.  My heart wants them to be happy.  Every year we try new things.  Every year, we try to remember what helped the year before to make us feel better.  Every year, being the Advent person that I am, I wait for the gift of the light to warm my heart and bring joy back into my home.

The jingle bells have started ringing in the holiday season again.  There is much to do.  There are the regular everyday obligations and then the jingle bells bring the obligations of a holiday sort.  Although I know much of these obligations and expectations are in my head, I still feel, well, I still feel obligated to them.  It is hard to go to holiday parties alone. It is hard to Christmas shop alone, it is hard to send out Christmas cards.  It is really hard to face the holidays alone. I’ve done it by myself now for what seems like a lifetime.  It is still hard.

When I think about how lonely the holidays feel, it makes me glad that I am an Advent person.  I can sit in the dark and wait for the light.  I know that no matter how many Advents/Christmases come and go that there will be light someday.  If I wait patiently and trust, someday, the light will fill my heart with its joy again.  I know that if I am patient with myself and my boys, someday we will have a home that it filled with happiness on Christmas morning.  I know that for every time I remember and give thanks for the years of joy that I had back then, I light a spark of hope for the years of joy that will come.  I believe, no, I know that at the end of darkness there is a light.  I know that it will come back into our lives and fill us up again.

the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned. Matthew 4:16

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