Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After Christmas

It is half past one in the morning of December 26 and I am exhausted but sleep eludes me. The past week went by in a blur. The last clear memory I have is going to the first day of pre-dawn mass. I remember getting sick a few days after that and staying home in bed while the hours which should've been spent for last-minute shopping were used sleeping. I vaguely recall finally having the energy to shop, without a list, and managing to do it with a seven-year-old who kept dropping hints about wanting a Baby Alive...then, the weekend before Christmas, being momentarily ecstatic discovering some nice plain wrapping paper, a few red mugs, lovely gift tags, and checkered ribbon at ten in the evening when my husband agreed to drive me to the mall I had been dreading to go to for fear of a stampede. Four days before Christmas or was it three, while I am gaining momentum, my two-year old gets tonsillitis so I decide to stay home with him instead of ticking off the hundred and one things on the list I finally got to do the night before. (The fact that I am confused about my past and present tenses and have run-on sentences as I write this is proof that everything is just so hazy and mixed up in my head.) At one point, I remember my amygdala wanting to go into panic mode but I surprise myself by remaining relatively calm. I decide to surrender. I try not to control. I simply flow. And flow, I did... in a let-go-and-let-God-sort-of-way.

And so, Christmas passed. I don't remember how but I ticked off everything on the list. The gifts were wrapped and delivered, the star was put up on the tree, the Advent Wreath ritual was completed, the family went to Christmas Eve mass followed by sumptuous Noche Buena, Santa came and left goodies in stockings, presents were opened the next morning, pictures were taken. Feasting over!

And now I am in front of the computer, in the dark. I can celebrate quietly, alone. I now have time to reflect on what Jesus has to say about all this merrymaking in His honor. He has indulged us once again. I feel sad for my children. They probably think Christmas is about them. I am wondering how I can make it different in the next few years as they get older. I don't want to go on celebrating Christmas this way, but then, I often find myself swept away by the tide of tradition, of cultural and family norms and yes, even of commercialism, no matter what resolutions I make to focus on the reason for the season.

I close my eyes and try to imagine a time in the far future. My husband and I are grandparents now, and the children have their own families. We still celebrate Christmas together but without the madness and frantic preparations that marked the earlier years. In our home, there is music coming from carolers who cannot be with their families for one reason or another. We've prepared a simple Noche Buena and at the end of the meal, the grandchildren bring out presents to give our guests. Everyone gathers around the Christmas creche where we have the real Baby Alive. We sing...

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in Heavenly peace
Sleep in Heavenly peace...

Until then, I guess I'll take what I have. I try to convince myself that in whatever form it comes, Christmas is a gift and it is what we do with it the day after that probably matters. I wonder if that makes sense. Maybe I should really get some sleep.

Peace to you and goodwill to all men. Christ our Saviour is born, Hallelujah!

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