It’s a quiet morning here, warm from El Ninos gracious Winter reprieve.
My furkid is perched in the window, savoring the sights of birds soaring from tree to tree in the distance. The house is still asleep and I’m counting my blessings for another Christmas that’s given me gifts for the soul, more than material objects.
Last night we did our family Christmas and I was looking around the room at family, thinking to myself that we may not always get along but that there’s something deep and abiding about that kind of love. I’m very different from my immediate family and it’s now become something of a running joke, because we’ve reached a place where we’re more apt to laugh at our differences than fight about them.
Sitting in that room yesterday however, I felt immense gratitude even for the struggles with them because they have been my constant teachers, calling out forgiveness, compassion and gratitude at all corners of my being. Even when it was hardest and perhaps especially then, I chose to feel grateful and chose to see where they were coming from when it would have been just as easy to blame and point fingers.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that those things are not what family you’re given and the family you choose are for. It flies in the face of their very purpose to keep your heart open. Believe me, I’ve got a family that’s just as functional in its dysfunction as anyone, but that’s no reason to put a stopper on the lid of my gratitude.
Christmases have been hard and they’ve been wonderful, too; Some years I’ve spent smiling from ear-to-ear and some I’ve spent holding back tears. They were unpredictable when my parents split up and they also became routine after a few years once we moved. They’ve been huge and filled with handfuls of family members and at other times they’ve been small and intimate, with only about five of us.
No one year will ever be perfect and if anyone tries to reach for that, the more we miss how much of a wonderful fit the present moment is for us. It’s not easy when you want someone to do something different and it’s especially tricky when you see a future and a way you want that to look with someone.
The truth is though, that the magic of Christmas that I loved as a kid was just how crazy everything was. I wasn’t as wrapped up in Santa as I was about how full the room felt and how infinite I felt (though I didn’t have those words for it then), because there was so much love surrounding us. It wasn’t about my Dad racing downstairs in a Santa hat, singing Christmas carols like a goofball, nor was it the brilliant smile on my Mom’s face as she saw how much some of the least expensive gifts meant to us; Nor was it about the first Christmas I spent with my Dad and my step-family a few years ago. It wasn’t about seeing my cousins on my Mom’s side or my Dad’s side of the family over the years in loud, laughter-filled frenzy.
It was the fact that in each case, there was an undercurrent of love.
More than everything on your list, that’s what I wish for you, my beautiful readers: no matter where you’re at, you tap into that undercurrent of love; Whether you’re with friends, family or the family you’ve made for yourself.
Rather than finding a heart today, I want to leave one behind with a simple wish that this is what you find yourself surrounded by this Christmas.
Love. Always. All ways.