December 7, 2014
I keep thinking about Opi and it makes me cry. The other day I found an old picture of him and Omi sitting by their humble, little Christmas tree and it makes me sad. Mostly because I think there’s more Christmas spirit in that picture than I’ve ever had in my whole life. I feel like I’ve lost the meaning of Christmas, you see. Maybe it’s not just me, maybe it’s the world. Everything about Christmas seems fake these days, doesn’t it? The commercials, the trees, the big displays in windows, the overdone lights, the extravagant presents, the village displays people put on their fireplace mantles…even the snow in the mountains. Everything seems like it’s trying too hard, like it’s trying to capture our attentions by being as big and as bright as it can.
I want something real, something simple, something homemade, something honest, something heartfelt. I want a quiet Christmas with lopsided trees, and flickering candles, and homemade embroidered table cloths. I want a Christmas where I can just sit by the fire and watch the flames flicker. Maybe snow would be gently falling outside and I could go stand by the window to watch it, seeing brightly-lit windows across the street and know that families were gathered together there behind the curtains.
I’m trying to remember what Christmas was like when I was little girl. Christmas with matching dresses, and badly drawn homemade cards, and licking the ice cream off the Hexen house when no one was looking. Christmas playing with the little wooden nutcrackers that never stood properly, and begging to be the one to blow out the candle, and throwing snowballs at my dad watching from the living room window. Christmas with dolls and puzzles, and standing around the tree holding hands singing ‘O Christmas Tree’ because we saw the outline of Santa’s sleigh in the clouds.
“My world is changing
Does that mean Christmas changes too?
Where are you Christmas?
Do you remember
The girl you used to know?You and I were so carefree,
now nothing’s easy,
Did Christmas change or just me?”
The pictures from the Christmases my Omi and Opi celebrated all those years ago help me recall the feeling of Christmas. I don’t know why; maybe because Christmas seems more real in the photos than it does in real life. It just seems so much more sincere – perhaps the love being the most sincere of all.
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought. “Doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
–How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
I don’t know how old you are when you’re reading this, but my wish for you is that you never lose it – not when you’re 13, or 22, or 36, or 73. I hope your heart is filled with hope and your eyes are filled with joy all year round. And if you ever lose Christmas, I hope you find it again in the first snowfall of the year, and the way the lights twinkle, and the smell of your mommy’s cookies. I hope you find it again in the Christmas melodies, and the sound of jingle bells, and a child’s smile. And if you can’t find it in any of these things, I hope you find it in pictures of your grandparents.