Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas: Tis the Season to be jolly?

Christmastime means a lot to most people. I think the majority simply enjoy the season with family and friends. There are some general hassles connected with cramming so much into so little time. (And there are expenses.)

There is also a minority who don't particularly like Christmastime. Family isn't always easy. Friends can be bothersome. And some of us have memories that we'd rather not visit. (Some folk simply aren't Christian! How awkward?)

My wife and I went away this year for Christmas. My kids are out of state, and we decided that Palm Springs was a better alternative than hanging out. I have two weeks off, so we'll have some "hanging out" time at home after the 25th.

While in Palm Springs we watched some TV. I saw an episode from Heat of the Night. The main character didn't really like Christmas. Too many bad memories. He got me thinking... of Christmas 1996... The date is recorded on my first wife's tombstone, marking the day of her death and "promotion." Those were sad times: Christmas memories that could easily still haunt me. And sadden me.

While in Palm Springs I also caught part of the movie, "You've Got Mail." It's the story of a man and woman who meet via AOL. This was back before sites like e-Harmony existed. It was a romantic comedy. Once upon a time, I met a widow on AOL. She lived in New York. I lived in California. We exchanged e-mails, support, advice, prayers, and eventually... wedding vows. Our eleventh anniversary was December 19th. We got married over Christmas Vacation my first year of teaching. Christmas memories of happier times.

The last two years children and grandchildren have visited us from out of state. We had some great times, and clogged drains. This year... on November 15th... my oldest daughter had twin boys. No visit this year! (But some nice phone calls.)

Past memories... which are certainly not viewed with 20/20 vision. What I see though is a mixed bag of sad and happy.

Current moments? Two weeks of Christmas vacation! The first three days, I was sick with a cold. This has happened before. I relax from the stress and strain of daily life and my body says, "Good, I've been meaning to tell you... you're sick."

With Kleenex in tow, Leslie and I then spent four days in the Palm Springs area. We got home yesterday. The weather was good. The view was lovely... snow covered mountains rising across the green of a fairway. We took two day-trips to Joshua Tree National Park. It was beautiful, but I had forgotten my camera. Oops. (I do have some great mental slides.)

Christmas is followed by New Year's. I'm glad for that. Not because we have any big plans, but because it stimulates me to look forward. What am I motivated for in the coming year? Enough of contemplating the past, what do I want to fill my current moments with? How will I orchestrate my present to bring me into a pleasant future?

Christmas past is beyond our control. The future is too.

What we have is now. And right now... things for me are pretty good. The dramas and traumas are low-key. My days have lots of bright moments and occasional triumphs!

The tapestry of life is varied. Sometimes the hues are dark, sometimes pastel. That's just the way it is.

Bottom line? For the majority of you... Merry Christmas! (It was ordinary. That's a good thing.)

For some of you... Christmas is over. Yay!

For some of you... who may be in the midst of troubling times... May the God of all consolations lift up your fallen spirits and give you renewed hope for the coming year! (For you... it's not the season to be jolly. But after a bit, the season you are in will change. That's what seasons do! Better times will come.)

Regardless of the type of Christmas you've had, time marches on. The old year is almost over. In fact, the second decade of the New Millennium is upon us!

My wishes for all of you is... Happy New Year! (Look for it.)


  1. Great post, with a lot of truths!
    Happy New Year to you too.

  2. Don, I love how you always make me think :) I like that imagery of the tapestry of life. So true. I'm going to look for that "happy new year". Thanks Don!

    By the way, I love the movie "You've Got Mail." It's a touching story about connecting and trying to make a relationship stand on its own.

  3. Ha - I saw the movie too this Christmas season -I came over from another blog and could not believe where you lived - I lived for 15 years in La Habra (Beach/Imperial) and just moved this year to Santa Ana -my kids all went for some time to Fullerton college!
    Hope that people with a similar experience of Christmas will read your post!

  4. @DawnTreader: Thanks for visiting and commenting. Glad you found some truth here. ;-)

    @September: Glad I could make you think. Reading your blog informs me that Christmas is a mixed bag of memories and present moments for you as well. Metaphors and movies: always glad to share with you.

    @Jeanette: Thanks for stopping by. I taught at Rancho for ten years: a junior high near Imperial and Beach, so I know La Habra pretty well too. Come again!

  5. Wow, this is a great post, I know I'm late but it's interesting to see how life unfolded for you!

  6. @its_all_good: Life does unfold. You and I have watched each other's year unfold. I'm glad you had a good one. Many firsts. Many triumphs. And you got to ride a camel!

  7. Very nice post, Don. I have a friend whose husband died Chrstmas Day 2008. Putting it simply...any day is a better day to die than Christmas Day.

  8. @Saphron: Christmas Day is a tough one for sure.

    Several months before Patti's death I read this in Jeremiah: "31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach [g] became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month. 32 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table. 34 Day by day the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death."

    As a result, I suspected December 25th was going to be "promotion" day. Out of the prison, to sit with the King.

    And so it was.