Monday, November 26, 2007

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT


We always hear about Christmas Spirit at this time of the year...but what exactly IS 'Christmas Spirit?' Is it in the mall or the boutiques? Is it found at the numerous Christmas programs we will attend? Is it found in the Pastor's sermon on the Sundays leading up to the BIG DAY? Is it in the faces of the children as they sit on Santa's lap? Is it outside of the big shopping centers next to the big kettle and the ringing bell? Is it at the table on Christmas day surrounded by your loved ones? Is it around the Christmas tree as everyone is tearing open their packages? Is it in the car as you travel to visit family?

I think you can find it in all these places..but do you? I have found through the years that I don't always have it. I feel like I should, but, in all honesty, that's just not the way it is for me. According to tradition, we should all have that special glow, that 'love the whole world' mentality, and open pockets ready to share from the moment Christmas is first mentioned. Well, I am here to say..."it ain't necessarily so." I get so caught up in all the TO DO lists and the presents, and the cooking and the parties, and the programs, and the services and the needy children and the decorating and the shopping and the visiting and the cards and the...and the...and the...Where did all this come from? And WHY do we do it, and continue to do it year after year? I find myself bemoaning the fact that I just don't feel like it's Christmas,,,and I don't feel like doing all this stuff again, and nobody notices unless I DON'T do it and nobody appreciates just how hard I work to get everything ready. There's just no way the Christmas Spirit can get through all that.

I wait for it to "hit me"...and thank God, it always does...just when I least expect it. One year it came as I was sharing the Christmas story with a group of preschoolers, and when I got to the part about the manger, a sweet little boy said, "He shouldn't 'a 'ever had to sleep in a barn...it stinks in there...somebody shoulda' gived Him a bed." The sweetness and honesty of children...I found it there. One year, I found it as I sat in a huge Christmas program and watched a son, who had been struggling with his own issues and bad choices, cry huge tears, unashamedly, because he was so touched at the message he had heard so many times before. I knew he was going to find his way back...and my heart was filled to overflowing with Christmas Spirit. Last year, I found it in a dear, sweet man, whom I love like a grandfather. I was sitting in church on Sunday evening, and Uncle Allison was sitting in front of me. He had been watching over his wife with Alzheimer's for many years...waiting on her and caring for her so tenderly. As he sang Christmas carols with his still beautiful tenor voice...face towards heaven and Glory on his face, I thought this must truly be what the angels in heaven sound like. And I found it there.

It will come...it always does. Just as I used to wait expectantly for Santa to arrive, I now wait for that funny feeling in my stomach, that catch in my throat, that swelling in my heart...and I know..I KNOW..I've caught the Christmas Spirit once again.

9 comments:

Lynne said...

Tonja - That was a beautiful post, and just what I needed to hear at this time. Thank you.

RealEstateGirl said...

Oh my word, you have me typing through the tears. You have such a gift in your writing. I just love this post.

You know, even though my Dad's mind was gone and he was so "empty" towards the end of his life, he NEVER forgot the words to hymns. Sometimes even now, when I'm in church singing a hymn, I can picture him singing with his face towards heaven too. I can remember how I would look at him and sometimes I would wonder what he was seeing because there was such an expression of joy on his face while he sang.

Now he is singing with the angels and I thank God for that.

Can't wait to see you this weekend!

Love ya!
Tracey

Ang baylis said...

What a sweet post, Tonja! It's so easy to get caught up in the craziness of Christmas and I usually feel the same way as you... It's difficult to try to force the Spirit to hit me! It does always come, so I wonder why I worry about it so much! I haven't decorated the house yet, things will be tight this year since my husband is in the process of starting his own practice. I have a feeling the Spirit will hit me harder than ever since I will appreciate God in my life so much more this year! This was a wonderful post! I think I will read it one more time!
Love,
Angie xoxo

Musicaljean said...

So well written, Tonja. Just beautiful. We should all share our Christmas spirit moments after this season.

nancygrayce said...

That was so beautiful, and so true of probably all of us. I was just saying couldn't we skip all the Christmas "stuff" this year and just be together.....so thanks for reminding me that everything will fall into place and everything will get done....and the fact that Christ has come will burst into my heart!

Dianne said...

Great post Tonja...and what great examples of the Christmas spirit. I find they come more and more often and more easily the older I get, and I am thankful for that!

Given Grace said...

Tonja...thank you so much for your wonderful words, just an awewsome post! It is so hard to see so many people trying to force the spirit into all the wrong things. I often feel such saddnes when you hear and see people stressing over all the stuff...and the spirit is missed!

Mary said...

You are definitely not alone Tonja - you said it all so well and it makes me realize that I'm not going nuts alone!

Why do we allow ourselves to get so stressed over a Holiday that should mean peace and joy and sharing? It is of course due to the power of advertising and the media, bombarding us with what we should be doing for everyone else. They are the enemy - and yes, I used to work in advertising so am familiar with that part.

Being matriach of a family always means we are put upon in so many ways - without us 'they' can't seem to function. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me I have to do is nothing this year, just relax, enjoy the season......and be waited on PLEASE!!! Personally I don't ever see this happening - I hope you have better luck dear!

So sorry about the flood - thanks for the tip which I will remember! That Alex is a gem of a son - give him a hug from me.

Lisa J said...

Tonja,
How wonderful that you can have a thought flow through your fingers and reach people a half of a world away.
Maybe that is what God thought Christmas should be...hearts touching hearts in the most unlikely places at the most unlikely times...you touched mine.
Lisa J