There are a handful of national holidays in a year, eleven to be exact, and even more that aren't considered official by the government. Some aren’t thought of until you login to facebook at 2pm the day of and are greeted with a “Happy Columbus Day” or “Happy George Washington’s Birthday.” Other holidays are well-known and celebrated by everyone. These holidays like Independence Day and St. Patrick’s Day are thought of a week or maybe a month in advance. Some people may take theses days off of work or school, but many continue with their normal tasks for most of the day. But there is one holiday that nearly everyone thinks of with anticipation and excitement months in advance. People even listen to music and watch movies solely devoted to the holidays. As the day grows closer and closer, joyful thoughts of family, food, and gifts dominate the mind. On this one day people put their busy lives on hold. Anxiety, fear, and trouble have no place to stay as peace and contentment occupy the entirety of the mind.
Why is Christmas so special? Why does it supersede all other holidays? I think it’s different for everyone. Just the word “Christmas,” elicits specific and unique memories in each person. For me, when I think of Christmas, I am flooded with memories that are almost magical. Christmas was a place separate from the world. It felt as if time completely stopped. There was nothing in the past to regret and nothing in the future to dread. Every part of me was completely in the present moment. My family worked so hard to make Christmas this way for all the kids. They took drastic measures to make certain that we all wholeheartedly believed in Santa Clause. Every Christmas Eve we left out cookies and milk for Santa, vegetables for his reindeer, and a note thanking him for the gifts. The next morning we would race down the stairs, hop through the sea of presents that filled the living room and find ourselves in the kitchen basking over the carrot and cookie remnants with a letter in reply from Santa. The rest of the day, after opening up our presents of course, would be spent analyzing everyone’s handwriting to be sure we weren’t being fooled by the adults. We eventually came to the conclusion that Grandad was Santa Clause. When we weren’t around, he travelled to the North Pole to lead his elves in the gift-making process. This was easy to believe because Grandad had a long, white beard, inviting eyes, a jolly smile, and a belly big enough to fit cookies from every household in the world. Nan would even say that she was Santa’s special helper, so all we had to do was tell her what we wanted, and she would get the message to Santa. Of course this meant she was Mrs. Clause. This only made sense because nobody cooks or bakes quite like her. Nan definitely milked these speculations. I remember one Christmas Eve, as my cousin and I were lying in bed, we heard sleigh bells clear as day. They sounded as if they were coming from the roof. We were convinced Santa had arrived. These memories are why I think of Christmas as magical and separate from day-to-day reality. The magic wasn’t the only thing that made Christmas so special, but the whole family being together. Every minute of every hour was spent with cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, and grandparents. We played cards, we watched movies, we ate unreasonable amounts of food, we filled up the couches in the living room as we slept away our full bellies, we went shopping together, we prayed together…we did everything together. This was the true joy of the season. Being together was the reason Christmas was so special.
As the years went on the magic of Christmas faded away. Santa was exposed for who he really was, a historical figure named Saint Nicholas, who had long been dead. We stopped leaving notes and cookies and vegetables. We stopped racing down the stairs to the kitchen because there was no note from Santa left to find. We found out that the sleigh bells we heard that one Christmas Eve night were really just the sounds of Nan up in the attic jingling some bells and stomping around to make it seem as if Santa’s sleigh had arrived. Even though the magic was gone, family always remained. Christmas was still as exciting as it ever had been because we were all together. Games were still played, food was still eaten, couches were still filled, and malls were still shopped. We were all together celebrating the birth of our Savior, and that was all we really needed.
I write all this in the past tense because this year is going to be different. There has been a significant amount of change in our family. My grandparents lost their house, the house that held every Christmas memory. My uncle got a new job that moved him and my aunt to Georgia along with my cousin Kami. My two other cousin’s remain in Ohio, while my family and I live in Missouri. At first we didn’t think this would be a problem. We would all find a way to be together no matter where we were. Unfortunately, my dad lost his job so money became a little to tight for travel, everybody has complicated schedules that don’t match up, and it doesn’t seem like anyone has a large enough space for all of us to stay. I could handle losing the magic, but I honestly don’t know if I can handle losing the together. One thing I do know is that God is in control and must have a reason for us not being able to be together. I will hold unto his goodness and focus on the reason for the season, His Son coming in the flesh to save me and bring me into right standing with God. When Christmas music comes on and I begin to shed a tear, I will hold unto Him and find joy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a freshman in college at Missouri Southern State University. I am also a student athlete, as I play basketball for Southern. I am majoring in psychology. I love and follow Jesus, which is the most important thing about me. I also enjoy writing which is why I chose to write a guest post for this blog. I am also the blogger's cousin and she asked me to write it, so I did.