I have had trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year. I know why, but I am trying not to admit it to myself. I am getting caught up in the "should's" and that is not fair. I keep thinking that things are just not how they are supposed to be, and it is making it difficult to find joy in the way things are.
Long before Robbie and I got married, or even engaged, or even graduated high school, I envisioned how Christmas would be for us. After he invited me to that first Christmas over at his Mawmaw's and Pawpaw's house, I wished with all my might that one day, somehow, I could be a part of that family and enjoy those Christmas celebrations. I hoped and prayed as hard as I could, that my children, that Robbie's and my children, would be among the little children playing in the floor. I had an image in my head, and my little fingers were crossed that, one day, I could have that. I hoped and prayed that I would marry Robbie so that we could have cute kids together and fun Christmases. And other fun holidays!
But that was not to be.
Over the past six and a half years, those special people who made those Christmas celebrations what they were-namely Robbie's Mawmaw and Pawpaw and Mama, have moved on to the next life, where they are hopefully watching over us and enjoying our little Lily in whatever ways they can. Everyone else has moved away. Things are not not not the same, and I don't even recognize what they are now.
At least we got to tell Ms. Judy that we were pregnant with Lily. We told her at Thanksgiving time. I was so excited to make the announcement because I couldn't wait to see her reaction. She knew how to really celebrate people and their fantastic news. I knew she would really celebrate the pregnancy. We spent one last Christmas together and I imagined Lily sitting in the floor playing with the boxes and wrapping paper the very next Christmas. However, Ms. Judy died before Lily was born. They didn't meet. She didn't get to hug and kiss her, and that makes me very sad. I was really hoping Lily would get here before it was "too late."
Last Christmas, Lily's first Christmas, was unrecognizable. At least half of it was. I brought her along for the annual Holiday Pops concert with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, where she was able to meet Santa Claus. That was fun. Things with my family are the same as they always were, thank goodness. Then we celebrated Christmas at a different house, with different people. Nice people, but....different. It was hard for everyone involved. I don't know what everyone else was thinking, but I was just thinking about how much I missed Ms. Judy and how I wished we were over at Robbie's Mawmaw's and Pawpaw's house celebrating Christmas the way it was supposed to happen when I wished it long ago.
I haven't said any of this out loud to Robbie. I've just complained, "I just can't get into the Christmas spirit," to which he replies, "You need to focus on the family that is instead of the family that was." I guess he knows what my problem is without me even saying it. Yes, girls, he's a mind reader, and he's all mine!!!! But me being a girl and all, sometimes I just need to get the thoughts out of me. So here they are. Sorry Robbie.
I am trying. I really am trying to feel something different. Something special. Something Christmasy. I have hung decorations. I have performed in the holiday concert that usually gets me in the Christmas mood. I have listened to Christmas music during my spare moments. My latest attempt is reading a talk by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf from the 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional entitled "Seeing Christmas through New Eyes." From the title, I figured I could use a dose of "seeing Christmas through new eyes." He suggested three things we could do to study, ponder and prepare for the upcoming Christmas season.
1. Rejoice in the Birth of Our Savior
I'll admit it, I am a birth junkie. Lately my mind has been on Mary and what she must have been thinking during the birth of the Savior. Hers was the ultimate unassisted birth, I think. When I was younger, I used to feel sorry for her that she had to give birth among a bunch of animals and in some hay. At least that's how I imagined it. When I was a kid, I imagined her birthing without pain medication, moaning through her contractions, and her breath creating little clouds in the air. I imagined her being scared, and acting in the typical way Hollywood would have me imagine she would act. Now that I have experienced the birth process, I admire her. I almost envy the fact that she was able to birth without extraneous people and equipment around. I still wonder if she was worried. Did it bother her that she gave birth around animals? Or did it give her strength? How long was her labor? Did Joseph catch the baby? Did he massage her? What positions did she labor in? Did she move a lot? Did she moan or was she quiet? Did she feel powerful? I know I should be focused more on thinking about what the Savior's birth means, but so far this Christmas, I have thought a lot about Mary's role during this time.
2. Ponder His Influence in Our Lives Today
Lately, I have been thinking about my relationship with my Savior and it has nothing to do with the fact that Christmas is coming up. I've noticed how other people think about Him and talk about Him. I admire how some people truly trust Him. They really really do. They talk about Him like they know Him, like He is their very best friend or brother. They make it seem like Jesus Christ is their life. It appears as if every waking moment they spend contemplating him and living life as if He is walking every step of the way right there with them. I feel like I used to be better at that. I used to be more devoted and I used to feel closer to Him. What has happened? What can I do to get back? I need to get back.
3. Look Steadfastly for His Coming
I don't think about this one very much. I should, but I don't. I suppose what I get from this, is that I need to live my life in such a way that if He were to come right this minute, I'd feel good about it. I suppose that's the entire point, huh?
So here's to getting into the Christmas spirit!
How have you prepared for Christmas? What can you do to see Christmas through new eyes?