A Very Merry Christmas
Don't hate. It's Christmas. I have been working on something for days, and I just couldn't get it right. My thoughts were jumbled, the words weren't coming, I couldn't make a connection between my brain and the page, so I decided that the insight I had earlier this week was meant for me, so for me it will stay. (Don't be offended, I couldn't even get it right for Husband, which is a sure sign that it just isn't going to happen.)
Okay, disclaimers aside, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Yes, as in FINALLY I am enjoying myself and feeling Christmas-y.
I have enjoyed my study of the Atonement so much. I want to share some of it with you, but I think it will take a few days to get it just right and sift through everything that I want to say.
"Maybe Christmas, she thought doesn't come from the store, maybe Christmas she thought, means something more" or however that quote goes from The Grinch. (just can't get Pres. Uchtdorf's talk out of my head!)
Last night as I crawled into bed I told Husband that it was going to be the worst Christmas ever. We managed to get the tree up, but boxes of decorations sat (and still sit) untouched upstairs. Our Christmas Eve "program" didn't meet my approval as guilt washed over me. We had to find one of our nativity sets (in the boxes) so that we could use it in conjunction with our reading of Luke 2. We have so many nativity sets. Last year, I told Daughter the story of when Jesus was born 100 times before Christmas Eve. This year, maybe 5-10 times. Our house was a mess. I hadn't really bought everything that I wanted to give, so stockings were only half full and there was only 1 present per person. We hadn't eaten what was planned for Christmas Eve dinner (chicken pot pie), getting by on a quick substitute, and as I was putting Daughter to bed she asked me if Santa was bringing a baby to our house. Ouch. I pretended not to hear. Yes, I knew it looked grim, and so I cried to Husband that I didn't want Christmas to come. I didn't want to have to face it and celebrate it. Despite my best efforts to study the Atonement and feel in the Christmas spirit, I just didn't. I have turned into a walking pharmacy, but I want to be a person.
Today we looked in our stockings and opened our presents. We ate a special Christmas breakfast that was a tradition in Husband's family. Daughter loved receiving a baby stroller, high chair, etc. for her doll, and that kept her busy most of the morning. Thankfully, she is still just young enough that she didn't know that Christmas could be different, so she was pretty content. After all of that, it was time to go. Where you ask?
Husband and I decided that this year we would like to visit some nursing homes on Christmas (kind of alluded to it a few days ago, when I said we wanted to help others understand the Atonement). We dressed up in red and green. Daughter wore a red sparkling dress with a red glitter headband, and we gave her a bunch of jingle bells to carry. I prepped her by telling her that we were going to visit some Grandmas and Grandpas that might be sad and that we wanted to make them happy.
Our first stop was at an assisted care center. When Daughter got in there. She went running down the halls with the bells. Everyone, the residents and nurses, looked up to see what the commotion was about, and everyone got huge smiles. They were eating lunch, so we went table to table to talk to these sweet elderly people. Daughter hugged everyone (and let them kiss her). She sang a little, and said "Merry Christmas". She also got shy sometimes being surrounded by so many wheelchairs. Everybody's eyes were twinkling as they looked across the room waiting for Daughter to visit them. Some women couldn't wait, and they wheeled themselves over to her, anxious for their turn with the little darling. Husband and I talked a little to the residents, but mainly helped Daughter to spread her infectious joy. Some of these people were hunched over in their wheelchairs, but seeing Daughter, they looked 20 years younger as they raised their heads, smiled, and had a change come over their countenance.
As I was there, I was surprised at how many nurses were there. As we were driving there I had noticed that every single business had been closed. It had seemed that no one had to work on Christmas. Seeing how many nurses had to work, it humbled me. Gratitude washed over me. Spending my time with these people, I began to see all that I had been blessed with.
I can feed myself. I can walk. I have all of my mental faculties. My skin is glowing and youthful and my teeth are all intact and healthy. I have family who I can spend time with daily. I have a lot to be thankful for. As we sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and waved goodbye my voice choked up as I realized these things.
We had planned to go home for naps, but Daughter insisted upon "more grandmas and grandpas" so we drove to a retirement community. This center was different. There are no nurses. Some of these people have cars and can drive. They have the ability to take care of themselves. We walked through the halls talking to those we saw. I ended up playing a few songs on the piano for them, which made me remember when I used to play at an Alzheimer's facility weekly at their Sunday dinner hour, oh so many years ago. We met a woman who inquired about our family. I explained that we were far away from all of our parents/ grandparents and that was why we wanted to visit. I asked about her family. She explained that she had not been able to have any children and that she was alone now with no one to visit her. As we talked, she was strengthening me. I had gone out this afternoon to be the giver, but in the end, I felt I had received so much more.
Gratitude is the name of the game. I am grateful that I studied about it so diligently (see part 1, part 2, and part 3). I will go back and study it even more. I have been especially thinking about how prayer and gratitude go together. I cannot wait until I can do a post on a prayer, but that is jumping ahead of myself. :) Note to self - I would also like to see if I can find more on gratitude and the Atonement. Note to all - why don't you join me? Share if you find something good.
We came home. Happy and fulfilled. We napped. We ate our not-perfect Christmas dinner (how could I forget to make the pie?!?!?!) on our kitchen table littered with who knows what (we still have a pumpkin...looks great next to the poinsettia, right?). We spent time as a family. We taught Daughter that Christmas isn't about stockings or presents, food or sweets.
Christmas is celebrating the Savior. It is treating others as He would have treated them. That is with love. Charity is the pure love of Christ. (favorite scripture by the way) Christmas is about feeling good about yourself, for we all are children of God. I may still be a walking pharmacy, but at least I am a walking one, instead of being in a wheelchair like the "wheeled pharmacies" I saw today, and I will always be a child of my Heavenly Father who loves me TONS and TONS.
Merry Christmas. Merry Unusual and Unconventional Christmas, but Happy Christmas. Happy, free of the world, Christmas. Have a good night.