Tuesday, November 16, 2010

‘Tis the Season! (For Unexpected Circumstances)

Ever since I can remember Christmas has been the most amazing time of the year for me.

Growing up on the California coast we never had snow or that cold nip in the air.  We had clear blue skies and 65 degrees, just like most of the year.  But we did have colored lights on the houses, the smell of pine indoors and even chimney smoke here and there.
The stores would all put out their holiday displays (around Thanksgiving instead of before Halloween.)  And Christmas carols would fill the air almost everywhere you went.
Christmas time was a time for joy and love.  Everyone wanted to embrace the world and give a little more.  It was like His love, His gift of the season, was being shared by all.  Believers and non were ready to give a little bit of themselves and somehow the world seemed a better place.
Idyllic?  Maybe.  But maybe it’s the one time of the year when that’s a little bit ok.

Then I grew up I took all my love of the season with me as I started on a new portion of my life.  I have a family and now it is my turn to pass along my love of Christmas and tradition to the next generation.  That’s when something strange began to happen.
We had a new baby and a new home in the woods.  We had snow and lights and a chill in the air.  It couldn’t get better than this, could it?
Our first Christmas as a young family we had a lot of company, who all came to our house bearing gifts.  Yes, it was cold and flu season and we all managed to get ill that Christmas.  Surrounded by family with hacking coughs and multiple trips to the bathroom which inevitably led to clogged and overflowing toilets, we embraced a not-so-traditional season that seemed to last for well longer than the usual Christmas month I was used to.  But, oh well, it was just one strange holiday and we would have many more to come.  Traditions could start next year.
Yes, the next year came with a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes, and hope in my heart.  Snow was a-plenty and this Christmas would be wonderful.  And it was, even when the power went out and we huddled around the fireplace bundled in our outerwear.  Even when ice storms came and trees fell down in the night as howling winds tore through the forest.  Even as Christmas approached and we had to cancel our travel plans because we weren’t scheduled to have power back before Christmas day.  And then the toddler fell and cracked cheek open on fireplace and we all moved into my parent’s townhouse because it was freezing (literally) inside our powerless house…
Eight days and cold nights later we finally had power and raced back home.  Good to be home on Christmas Eve.  Tried to salvage what was left of our Christmas spirit and enjoy the moments we had together, unaware that this particular Christmas season would never really end. 
It’s good to know that sometimes when a toddler gets a fondness for a particular CD, they don’t give up on it very easily.  That Christmas CD was listened to until I finally ripped it from the CD changer around August, vowing that I would never want to hear another Christmas song again.
But the holidays came once more, this time finding us in a bit of a land dispute with our neighbors who had come by around September to tell us that they realized where the property line was, but had decided that they wanted it about 25 feet closer to our house, never mind if we had to cut off part of our attached garage if that were the case.  (Worse than child dispute case – our attorney claims so at least.)
So, skipping that one and then the additional 6 months of holiday CD’s being played…  We now found ourselves at a new house with a new baby on the way, due around…  Yes, you guessed it, Christmas!
This was the year when I finally figured out what our family Christmas tradition really is…
Our tradition is that no tradition will be allowed to exist, unless you count ‘unexpected circumstances’ as an actual tradition.  I still love Christmas, even if life is determined to hold me down and beat the Christmas Spirit out of me one December at a time.

So now that we’re approaching yet another Christmas, the Christmas music is already playing in my car, the presents are starting to get wrapped, the joy is building.  I’m getting an early start on my Christmas spirit, because I don’t know what will happen between now and Christmas day.  Yes, we will have Thanksgiving, trimming the tree, a very special birthday to celebrate, and then there’s the reason for the season.
I never forget the reason for the season.  His gift that brings us all together.
In fact, maybe I can relate a little more to that very first Christmas in a cold manger without power or a place to call home.  Giving birth to a new life while the world lay sleeping.  Away from home, away from family, away from everything traditional.  Funny how all of our deep rooted traditions started with one very non-traditional birth on one non-traditional night. 
Maybe ‘unexpected circumstances’ is the best tradition to celebrate a very unexpected circumstance that changed the course of my life and all the lives of those who celebrate this season with me.
So wishing you all an early start to the season and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS no matter where it unexpectedly finds you.


Jennifer Hillier said...

Merry Christmas, Julie! Congratulations on your soon-to-be Christmas gift!

Santa sent me something in the mail today... oh wait, that was you! Love love love the tea. The chocolates I'm saving for the weekend.


Angela (Library Girl Reads) said...

Thank you so much for all the goodies that arrived yesterday! I can't wait to try the tea and chocolates :-)