Saturday, December 15, 2007

It Means A Lot

I had to make a quick run today for an errand, and as I was headed to a popular store on a Saturday, 10 days before Christmas, just prior to a major winter storm predicted for Sunday (only crazy people and people with 7 kids make such a dangerous journey), I had Christmas music on the van radio. Tony Bennett, to be exact. I was never a Tony Bennett fan, but his Christmas music is just wonderful.

I love Christmas music. I love listening to Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole sing the Christmas songs I heard on the radio or on television Christmas specials, when I was a little girl. Something about that era just brings the sparkle and magic of Christmas.

So while I'm driving I'm thinking about what Christmas really means to me.

As a Christian, of course Christmas means so much to me. Although some will say that Christ really has nothing to do with Christmas, I disagree and say that of course He does. It's almost impossible to read the account of His birth and the news the shepherds received, without imagining myself there, and seeing the expression on their faces at such incredibly glorious news. First and foremost to me Christmas is the celebration of that event in human history. It's a time to deeply reflect on why He came, how He came, what He accomplished by taking on the form of man, and all that pertains to all of that. Ideally we would be doing that all year long, but at this time of year He IS the focus and I like that.

Christmas is also however, a family tradition. Getting a tree, seasonal baked goods, opening gifts and all that goes along with that. It struck me today though just how deeply personal and sentimental Christmas really is for just about everyone. It's personal in that even among those who celebrate it the same way we might, with family gatherings and opening gifts, the memories will be so different. The stories that are told and re-told every Christmas are personal to you and your family. Someone will comment about what they got when they were little, and someone older will talk about what Christmas was like when they were little, and someone else will chime in with that hilarious story that you've all heard before but still makes you laugh. All those memories and stories are exclusive to you and your family, and they just seem to be part of Christmas every year. In our family it's The Pink Snake Episode, gma & gpa's little silver tree, gma's homemade divinity candy, and the year Santa and and elf showed up at our house with a big red sack filled with presents. We wont discuss The Pink Snake episode, except for me to patently deny all allegations and say "I have no knowledge of any accusation". (I'm sure my mom will be along shortly to tell you all the truth, however).

my babiesTonight all my kids were here to celebrate my birthday with me. We had an early dinner, decorated the tree and had Christmas music playing in the background. Someone commented that the younger kids are looking less like kids and more grown up this year. Someone else commented about a Christmas event that happened 20 years ago. Someone else commented about what we did last year, or the year before that. Every year at Christmas, memories of Christmases gone by are brought up and make us all smile. Twenty years from now someone will remember the funky yellow jammie pants that mom had on, when they look at the pictures. It'll just keep going on like that, every year. (I do my best to wear extremely funky jammie pants every year, just to keep things fresh).

While Christ is the central purpose for Christmas, it's also a family tradition and family celebration that warms my heart to be able to have. All my kids are in one place, and there are smiles, elevated laughter, dogs running around, cats wanting to be let outside, snow, egg nog and those incredible strawberry crepes and bacon quiche on Christmas morning. It's a time of memories and magic and love.

That means a lot to me.

(If you are just dying to see the fantastically groovy yellow pants, go here).