So many people are understandably sad this time of year. Tradition and change collide during the holidays, when traditions are similar enough to remind us of previous years, yet change makes us miss days gone by, people we love and miss.
Since last Christmas was my husband’s first Christmas without both of his parents, I knew it had the potential to be the saddest Christmas of his life. Not wanting that to be the case, I began looking back over all my Christmases, for the things that brought me the most joy and excitement.
Surprisingly, even as a small child, my greatest joy and excitement did not come from things at all; it came from the anticipation, from counting down the days of December, until I was surrounded by family, feeling loved and well fed and fussed over, and – finally! – getting to open presents. But I don’t remember the presents themselves, only the joyful anticipation of them.
As an adult, most of my joy and excitement still come from the anticipation of Christmas. So, last year, I decided to give my husband something to anticipate, something to look forward to every day, during the twelve days of Christmas. Every day, there was a little surprise gift for him. Most of his gifts didn’t cost much, if anything – his favorite cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a Christmas CD to listen to in the car, fragrant clippings of a pine tree to make his office smell Christmas-y, a funny poem, a massage after work – all small things that required nothing more than a little time, a little thought, a little love. And do you know what? It worked! We both had plenty of Christmas joy, because we both had something to look forward to, every day.
And we still do. Short-term, I’m doing the twelve days of Christmas for my husband again this year, and I can hardly wait! Long-term, the real gift, the birth of our Savior, gives us even more to look forward to, including the chance to see all those whom we love and miss again, in heaven. This is a gift my heart would celebrate even if I was the last, lone person on earth. It is a gift that belongs to us all, gives us all so much to celebrate and look forward to, regardless of our earthly circumstances. So, it is with great joy and anticipation that I say to you: Merry Christmas, y’all!