christmas present.

the demise of christmas began for me when my parents separated when i was in college, and then divorced a year later. until then, christmas had been a really exciting production every year. after that, we maintained christmas eve with my dad’s family per tradition, but it was bittersweet on account of leaving my mom alone.

and then his parents both died in 2002 and christmas was suddenly over for that side of the family. we were the only grandchildren, so christmas had always been for us…until it wasn’t. while i lived in The Big House, i tried to maintain christmas eve tradition as my grandmother would have and while it was still special, it just wasn’t the same and then my dad moved away.

we continued to spend christmas day and the day following with my mom’s family, but everyone really started doing their own thing when my grandma died in 2008. whoever is home will still get together on christmas afternoon.

you can imagine that our christmases have become awkward and without tradition. what was once a very special holiday is no longer sacred but uncomfortable, trying to fit in to other people’s very merry christmas. we wake up now at sarah hope’s house for hannah grace’s sake on christmas morning, and i love to see christmas through her eyes.

i imagine it looks an awful lot like that of three little girls i once knew.

even so, molly and her family aren’t coming home, which makes my heart ache, especially now that sweet baby james has come into the world.

* * * * * * * * * *

the week after thanksgiving, i watched both rudolph and frosty.

i watched cma’s country christmas, as well as michael buble’s christmas special.

i ordered and had sent sweet baby james his christmas present.

i decorated my sister’s house and hannah grace screamed when she came home and saw her christmas tree lit.

and on a friday night when i just wanted to stay home, i jumped up and ran out the door before i could tell myself ‘no’ and met friends at a nearby church to watch their heartfelt living christmas tree. while i waited for them, the pastor stood in the lobby talking to me. in their presentation, they made it clear that christmas is even for those like me who struggle to make it through, the ones who don’t feel much like celebrating and just want it to be over already.

the following night, on the way home from celebrating a cancer-free friend in raleigh, a friend plead on the fb for someone to attend a christmas carol at the community college where she teaches. i detoured and met her there. in fact, i got there before she did. but before it started, she rode me around the little town where she worked and we looked at christmas lights.

and then scrooge once again reminded me of christmases past and christmas of today and future christmases and, for a moment, i god blessed us everyone and laughed heartily.

and when i told her about my mission to make this The Best Christmas Everrr, i followed my kind friend through a christmas lights display on our way home.

i’m not sure my friend knows how much this night meant to me.

last week, i strung lights around my window and hannah grace hung stars from my blinds. i have a tiny, charlie brown christmas tree that boasts JOY in pink glitter. i decorated my table, the same one that will soon hold my art supplies.

i have watched elf 27 times already.

last week, the almost four-year old and i painted pottery for her mom’s christmas present.

i went to the local christmas parade last weekend with friends and enjoyed myself. this past saturday, i went to my hometown parade for a few minutes.

i have been listening to christmas music regularly. as a matter-of-fact, i just now edited my playlist because i realized i was missing some songs.

after i went to visit at heatherly’s house, many of you privately reminded me that i am a member of your family and graciously welcomed me into your home, if not my own, which i didn’t know my heart needed to hear.

* * * * * * * * * *

so my heart longs for christmas past and looks forward to christmas future when i can form and keep my own traditions. but, this year, in christmas present, i will hold tight in my heart memories of years past when i wouldn’t want christmas to end. the days when ours and my grandparents’ homes exploded in gifts and smelled of cinnamon & peppermint. when we would anticipate all of my cousins arriving christmas afternoon and we would laugh and play music and sing and dance around the piano late into the night. we did christmas big and it was wonderful.

christmas was…magical…then.

anymore, christmas is what it is but it’s not what it once was. and that’s okay. i continue to seek and find new & different ways to catch The Christmas Spirit. i want it to be magical again.

i’m not one to speak in extremes except for dramatic effect. life has taught me not to talk about The One Thing and The Best or The Worst and i try to avoid always and nevers. (usually.)

despite my determination to make this The Best Christmas Everrr, it’s turning out to be a Pretty Good Christmas instead.

and if christmas is in my heart, then perhaps Pretty Good is better than Best.

so, no Best Christmas Everrr Plan here this year, friends. i’m removing any expectation that christmas present will be anything it is or isn’t supposed to be and i will appreciate it for what it is. you have my permission to do the same (not that you need it).

let’s just breathe and relax into the holidays, shall we? (i mean, they’re here, so…)

how has christmas changed for you over the years, for better or worse? 

what’s your favorite christmas memory?

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sharon O
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 09:26:53

    Change is always hard. You can make new traditions even if the moment doesn’t seem the same or right. The meaning of the season is the same no matter who you are with right? A baby came to save the world and God loved it so much that he gave us a magical wonderful story. Of love, of compassion and peace.

  2. HopefulLeigh
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 09:34:12

    I haven’t thought about the contrast between Christmas Past, Present, and Future yet there it is. I still find Christmas to be magical but it’s not the same as when I was a kid. And I still hope for a Christmas that will be helmed by my own traditions. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying what it is because the reason why we gather is more important than my what ifs. You are wise, my friend, and I know that this will be a good Christmas for you simply because of your heart and attitude toward it.

  3. kristinherdy
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 11:07:24

    I miss being able to enjoy a leisurely Christmas, though I’m guessing it wasn’t very leisurely for my parents! I feel pulled in too many directions, and now that I’m seeing someone with children, I feel like I have to incorporate everyone’s Christmas traditions, and it weighs on me.

    I think my attitude toward Christmas has changed — it’s more for others than for myself, which should be good, but it keeps me from reflecting on the deeper meaning of Advent a little more each year. Yikes!

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Dec 13, 2011 @ 14:40:15

      i think enjoying one another and celebrating life is the exact reason for the season. you honor jesus in your hearts by loving one another out loud.

      doesn’t get more advent-y than that. :)


  4. Lyn
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 15:18:27

    Beautiful post! Christmas changed for my family when my parents divorced. It’s so true that it’s easy to ruminate over Christmases past and idealize future Christmases. Personally, I’ve chosen to take charge and create Christmas my own way :-)

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Dec 13, 2011 @ 14:43:17

      thanks, lyn. so true.

      and i’ll create a new christmas when/if i have a family of my own or when/if i’m ever away from my own family. for now, i choose to celebrate with the people with whom i’ve shared every other christmas of my life, for better or worse. :)


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