On Giants' Shoulders

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Worst Christmas Ever

That's what my daughter dubbed it yesterday. She had some justification in that she'd been running a fever ever since Saturday (up to nearly 102), had no appetite for all the Christmas goodies, was dizzy, and was too sick to even go to Mass (which just NEVER happens around here), and was anxious about missing work today because her boss apparently made a big deal about this week being mandatory.

I said that I agreed it was a pretty lousy way to spend Christmas, but that it wasn't quite my worst Christmas ever. Ironically, my worst Christmas (thus far, anyway) was the year I was her age. My father had died just a couple of weeks earlier, my mother and I were staying temporarily with my aunt. I got pleurisy apparently from sleeping in a too cold bedroom, and I'd just realized I had to distance myself from my best friend because the religious group she was involved in bordered on the cultic. Oh, and I was unemployed because I'd given up my job to take my parents to Gerogia for the winter (my dad died within days of our arriving there). I wasn't sick, sick, but it was a Christmas with a lot of heartache.

Within weeks, however, my mother bought a new place to live, I found a new job, and moved to a different town. A year later I was married and celebrating a truly wonderful Christmas. What a difference a year can make sometimes.

Alice Lawhead wrote a book years ago, titled simply The Christmas Book. In it she points out that there are those unique Christmases that for some reason simply have to be endured. They are the out of kilter Christmas when someone is sick, or just died, or a house burned down, or someone is in the military far away. On those Christmases celebration seems out of whack.

With this sort of Christmas you do your best to muddle through. It helps to remember why you're celebrating in the first place, but it also helps to remember (as my mother-in-law would have pointed out) that it's just one day and that Christmas is actually something that we as Christians should be celebrating all year long.

So while we had goose, and roast beef, as well as plum pudding, and all the other special trimmings yesterday, while the people we most wanted here were (other than relatives too far away to make it), while the gifts were lovely and the day peaceful, it was still an out of whack Christmas. In the final analysis, however, what's really important is that the King has come and, out of whack Christmas or not, the world will never again be the same.

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