Christmas is less than seven days away and, if you're like me, this next week will prove to be one of the busiest of the year. There are still presents to be wrapped, linens to be changed for my guests coming into town, menus to be planned and groceries to be bought. I always think of Christmas sort of like I do weddings...they both take quite awhile to plan, but only one day to actually be completed. But just like a wedding is only the beginning of a great many hopeful years of marriage, Christmas should be the start of a hopeful new year to follow. And just as marriages take work and we can never take them for granted, neither should we take the many gifts of Christmas for granted.
I've always thought it a good plan the way we celebrate Christmas and then move to our celebration of a New Year. To me, the clean fresh start of a new year feels good after the excess of the holidays -- you know, all the extra decor and glitter, lights and tinsel, spending, presents, rich food and such. I think these holidays are a good metaphor for just life in general. Sometimes our lives seem to become more and more cluttered and we find ourselves refocusing on cleaning up and paring down. Whether we choose to eat better by going on a cleanse or a new diet or exercise more or get our finances in order or try to be more disciplined in a million other ways, the promise of a new year always brings hope to people. Hope that things will be better. Hope that things will be easier. Hope that things will be happier. Hope for a boyfriend, a husband, a new or better job. The new year brings hope that things will be more, well, hopeful.
When my siblings and I were very young, our brother (the youngest in the clan) was always the first one up on Christmas morning. I guess he was more excited than any of us in hoping Santa had left many treasures under the tree. Or maybe sis and I just treasured our sleep more than him, I don't know. But each Christmas morning he woke us all up, and it seemed as though it was earlier and earlier every year! I'll never forget one Christmas it was ridiculous how early he woke us... I think about 2:30 a.m.! I don't know if that year he was hoping for something extra special from Santa but even my sister and I didn't want to get up that early! We scolded him and told him to go back to bed, so reluctantly he did. But I'm sure not before peeking into the living room where Santa had left his bounty. Poor kid, he probably never did go back to sleep after that. The hope of receiving something great was just too exciting.
After I had grown up, married, and had three children of my own, we developed our own Christmas traditions. The kids were always bummed because we made them wait to feast their eyes on the Christmas treasures awaiting them until the hubs had his video camera on and poised for the first shots of the day. He always wanted to get their faces filled with hope and wonder as they jumped off the stair landing in a race to the tree. Then we insisted we must make coffee before we could possibly be awake enough to open gifts, so I'm sure my children, like my brother, also felt like an eternity passed before they could get on with the festivities. What the kids didn't understand then (but all three certainly understand now that they're grown) was that coffee was mom and dad's hope of a good start to our day! Now I see them each forming their own Christmas traditions, but none that don't include a good dose of hope within them all. I mean, has anyone ever known someone who plans for Christmas or a wedding or a new baby or a new job or a million other milestones in life without the "hope" that it will turn out well? I personally don't know anyone. Nope, not one.
So I would venture to say that the silver thread of Christmas hands-down is hope. Hope is the one gift that is given to all freely and is woven in and out of every single thing we do during the Christmas season and most of the rest of every year. Whether you are a religious person or have never stepped foot inside a church, hope is within us all and is the one thing that keeps us going. Hope is the force that we house deep within our souls that tells us everything will be okay. There is no greater hope than the hope that was given on that first Christmas morning in the form of a tiny little baby. I don't know what you're hoping for this Christmas. Will your stocking be filled with more expensive trinkets than the gifts under the tree itself or will it be filled with oranges, apples and Hershey kisses like mine when I was a child? Maybe you won't receive a stocking at all, or even one tangible gift. But some gifts cannot be touched with your hands, only seen with your heart. May I suggest that the gift of hope is yours this Christmas? Your gift of hope might be as grand as the biggest mountain or as tiny as a flickering flame; it's different for different people. But just as that flickering flame will grow if given the proper conditions, so will hope. Above all things and all the bling Christmas has to offer, I wish for you hope this Christmas.
It truly is the greatest gift of all.
Posted by CC
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