Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Spirit

And I confess that I don't. Have the Christmas Spirit, that is. I've been sitting here, trying to decide what the problem is. The house is decorated. The tree is up. Ornaments abound. Christmas specials on TV and Christmas movies are all around us. So why no spirit?

Funny how easily we lose the spirit of Christmas. Does that mean we never had it to begin with? Or does that mean we don't really know what it is?

For some reason, depression, discouragement, loneliness and a general oh-woe-is-me attitude creeps in between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December. Perhaps it's the thundering reality that Christmas is around the corner and there is much to do. Perhaps its the lack of funds or the uncertainty of the new year. Whatever the reason, it occurred to me that I needed to sit back and think about what I believe in.

The first thing that struck me square between the eyes was the way that commercialism has robbed us of Christmas spirit. Particularly this year, many, many people are out of work, some with no homes, many with no prospects in the new year of better things to come. In these bad economic times, the expectations placed on us to buy, buy, buy are weighing us down. The realization that many of us may have to depend on depleted food banks for our Christmas dinners and the kindness of family or strangers to provide our children with a small gift can be most humiliating.

Have you ever noticed that it's easier to give than receive? There's something very humbling about being on the receiving line. It's even more traumatic when you're not there because of anything you've done...when circumstances beyond your control have taken over your life. Black Friday sales can't help you when there is nothing in your pocket to begin with.

Tied to that spirit thief, Commercialism, is his best buddy, Poverty. This year more than ever, Poverty has arrived uninvited for a long term stay. Poverty leaches all the joy and anticipation from the season with the worry and anxiety he sprinkles over everyone. It's tough to be excited about Christmas when you don't know how you're going to make the car payment or pay the electric bill.

Fortunately, we have Love around here. No, we can't live on the sustenance that Love provides alone, but where Love lives there is also Hope and Faith. They brought the most important cousin, Memories. She's the one who keeps the flame of Christmas burning.

Without all the wonderful memories to buoy us up, keeping our heads above water, Christmas would be meaningless. This afternoon as my granddaughter and I decorated the tree, we unwrapped and discussed the ornaments. Every ornament had its own story to tell.

This one was from the first Christmas when my children all lived in their own places.

That one was a gift from a dear friend now gone.

Oh! And this one was made by your Aunt Ti-ti when she was in fifth grade.

Look at this one with a picture of your Uncle T on it. He was wearing his cub scout uniform.

See this ornament? Your Poppy and I had that on the tree the first year we were married. Forty two years now...

Perhaps--perhaps I have a little Christmas Spirit after all. Perhaps I just needed to be reminded that home and hearth, family and friends are really the important things at Christmas. Those are the things that make us incredibly rich. For worse than the poverty of goods is the poverty of spirit. I suppose like Scrooge, I was waiting for someone to kick me in the butt and remind me how wealthy I really am. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back and my family is safe and sound. What more could I ask?

Blessings abound. What about you? What are the blessings you have that will remind you of the Christmas Spirit?



  1. I think that's the power of the human spirit - to persevere regardless of obstacles - and not a xmas thing. Blessings? To realise that you can be no one else than who you are and tough luck if no one likes it. I also supect I know the reason you're down but I know you're working on the remedy.

  2. Blessings...there are a million of them to be counted every day from being alive to having fresh water to drink and a roof over my head. I count them all, contantly.

    Some of my best Christmas memories are from a year when we had hardly anything, and I mean that literally. Any small thing made that year special. It help teach me what the spirit of the holiday was all about.

    It's all about family and hope and the human spirit.

  3. Been struggling with that too, this year. Might be time to dig the decorations out!

  4. We got married on xmas eve and every xmas I get an ornament from the hh. So putting the ornaments on the tree and looking back at the years they represent with the family usually does it for me.

  5. We had a very good year last year, and was able to be generous. This year, it's been a 180. But the blessings are the bills are getting paid, and everyone in my family loooooves cookies as gifts.

  6. At Christmas time my memories go back to my childhood. We were poor but really didn't know it. We loved each other and that was more than enough. And though we were poor, we always tried to find a way to give to others. Those moments of giving were certainly more important than the trees and lights and sparkle. I also remember those 'little kid' years with my own children. My husband and I would stay up sometimes until 3 am to assemble little things for Christmas morning. I miss that now that my kids are grown. They were happy times.

    This is a wonderful post, Anny. Wishing blessings on your family this holiday season. I love being your friend.