Christmas Stocking

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/

Today I was reminded  I could be happier in the present moment if I quit focusing on the way I think things should be. I know this is true, but something has been eating at me ever since I got home from visiting my father over Christmas. I have a dear friend who explained to me  holidays are like exclamation points—–they call attention to aspects of our reality that don’t match the way our culture says they are “supposed to be.” Many face Thanksgiving, Christmas, and/or New Years Day without a significant other(s) present. Every time a thoughtless person asks, with all good intentions, “How was your Christmas?” that person may be reminding someone of how painful and different his or her experience of Christmas was in comparison to the special shared time our culture expects it to be.

Yes, it helps to know that Christmas is really about celebrating Christ’s birth. I have often sat alone in my home reading the Christmas Story from my bible on Christmas day. Calls to my father and sisters help at those times, but it is still not what anyone would call a “traditional Christmas” experience.

My experience of Christmas has not been traditional for quite some time. It stopped being what television told me it should be when my mother and father divorced. Somehow having to “go home” to two separate homes at Christmas time at that point in my life took much of the magic out of Christmas. No matter how hard people tried, I always felt like a guest in both homes and did not feel as if I belonged in either one of them.

I like to think I have come a long ways since those days. I have learned Christmas is not all about “me”—-or my expectation that it be like it was, or I thought it was, when I was a child. The magic returns when I can let go of those old expectations and focus instead on making it better for others. I was lucky this Christmas. I got to spend it with my elderly father and youngest sister. It was special. I will always cherish the memory of the time we spent with each other. However, I still need to be careful not to automatically ask everyone I meet how their Christmas went. It may seem a bit strange, but I am trying to learn to ask people how they have been rather than how their experience of a specific event was.

Well, that is my rant for this afternoon. I am hoping all of us can experience a pleasant “now” in the present moment, moment by moment, as we travel through the day.  May God bless and keep you.