I have a confession to make. I’ve never been this late getting to my Christmas to-do list. “It’s the Monday before Christmas and all through the house, not an inkling of Christmas can be found by a mouse…” Ok, I’m not much of a poet, but it’s true. No wreath, no garland, no lights, no stockings hung by the chimney with care.
I’ve never felt so strangely detached from all of the preparations and decorations in the world outside of my home. And for the first time, I’m not sweating the Christmas cards. I’ve decided they will be New Year’s cards this year (and I still need to order them.)
So, if this is Christmas, why don’t I feel all Christmassy? Why do feel numb – like I’m waiting for the feelings to arrive?
I’ve done some soul-searching in the last few days – I’ve taken stock of all I have to be thankful for (a lot); of all the love in my life (ditto); and of all the good fortune I have been shown (again, ditto) – so what’s up?
“Maybe I need to put Christ in the forefront of my Christmas experience,” I thought. I don’t go to church every Sunday, so I decided going to church might make me feel better. I thought hearing some hymns and a nice sermon would help awaken those dormant Christmas feelings.
Well, church was very nice and I enjoyed singing some familiar hymns. It did boost my spirits a little. And then, I rushed off to a Christmas tea with a friend and spent the afternoon munching on finger sandwiches, scones and chocolates.
And surprisingly enough, it was at this tea with 25 assorted women, most of whom I didn’t know at all, that I was able to pinpoint my problem. As we all chatted and compared notes about our lives and our children, I was able to communicate my feelings of the last few months while my eldest son was away starting his freshman year at college. I recounted how at first I was so happy for him – and that he was so happy to be on his own – and then I shared the feelings I had a week after dropping him off: I was sad – so sad – and so lonely for him.
After sharing this story several times, it hit me. My college boy won’t be coming home until Thursday, December 22 – his exams are late. And while I still have lots to do – I realized that, for me, it wouldn’t really be Christmas until he’s home.
Somehow that realization makes me feel better. I know that the season of Christmas is happening all around me. But that the feeling inside – that feeling of joy and celebration and giving – has nothing to do with shopping, decorating or sending Christmas cards. It has more to do with feeling whole – with feeling that sense of togetherness that doesn’t happen at any other time of year.
After a brief phone call from college last night – I realize that he’s feeling it too.
We’ll wait for him to decorate the tree – but maybe I’ll go up to the attic, get the lights on the tree and put out the other decorations – so he’ll feel all Christmassy when he gets home.