I have a confession to make - I am not "feeling" it this Christmas. I don't mean that in the spiritual sense. I love this time of year, of making internal preparations for the coming of the Christ Child and the Second Coming of the Messiah at the end of time. I'm just not in the "spirit" of things as is expected of me. I simply don't feel like going out and buying things for people who don't need anything, nor do I want anyone buying me more stuff I don't need. I don't feel like putting up a lot of secular decorations and creating more and more stress for myself.
I have been off from work the past two days getting the house ready for the holidays. The oldest is moving back in on Saturday so there is no point in putting up the tree until all the furniture is here and has been hauled up the steps to her room, which everyone from the dogs to my husband have been using for storage since she moved out a year ago. I have mixed feelings about her coming home, but with the economy being what it is, I think it's the right thing for her to do so that she can finish school without the stress of worrying about how to pay her rent. On top of it, her employer, my former employer, is going to replace her with a volunteer, except they didn't bother to inform her. She found out the plan through the grapevine when the employee responsible for training the volunteer filled her in. Because she's a per diem employee, the hospital can do as it pleases and get away with it. She's been in the position faithfully for 5 years and just like that, they can send her packing with as little as an hour's notice.
This is the same employer that kept my over 300 hours of sick time yet feels entitled to ask me to repay tuition money for a degree it insisted I needed, even when I was entitled to tuition benefits and only used them once.
There is no benefit in trying to get even, so both of us are letting go of our disappointment and frustration and moving on.
We have spent the past two days together, getting rid of stuff we once thought we couldn't live without. Luckily, our work coincided with trash day and we were able to put quite a bit of it curbside. My husband, the true hoarder ( I have the name but he plays the game) kept retrieving stuff and trying to bring it back. He hasn't reached the point that I have of being able to let go. There are tons and tons of books and records taking up space and collecting dust in this house because he cannot let go of it.
There is something else I've had to let go of concerning my spouse but I will save that post for another time. It's a heavy one and I'm not prepared to talk about it right now.
The birds have their nests and the fish have the sea, but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His Head. It helps for me to remember that often ...
A few weeks prior to this exercise, I went through all of my clothes and even though I'm not one to buy a lot for myself, I still felt like I had way more than I needed. There were clothes from a different era in my life that I had been clinging to for years, whether out of the false hope that I'd lose enough weight to be able to fit into them again or that they would once again become fashionable. I decided enough was enough and donated all of it. Whatever it is, I can live without it. In fact, I'll be better off.
Anyway, it's less than two weeks before Christmas and I haven't bought a single gift. I wish I could say I miss having "believers" and having to tip-toe around on Christmas Eve sneaking presents under the tree, but the truth is that I don't. The truth is that Christmas has not been the same for me since I helped organize a Christmas Eve breakfast for the homeless at a local Episcopal church some years back. We not only served a wonderful meal of ham, eggs, hash browns, toast and assorted pastries, but we also created care packages for each of the men. We nearly ran out of food but the loaves and fishes factor was in effect, and no one walked away hungry. Each of the men received a gift bag with essentials for survival on the street. You would think we were giving away bags of gold for the reaction. I received hug after hug, some tear-filled, others simply full of joy at being remembered.
Shortly after, I left to come home to the Catholic church. I wanted my kids to see how little others have, so the following Christmas, Matthew, Rebecca and I put together care packages to take to men out on the street. Since Rebecca couldn't do much walking at the time, she helped assemble while Matthew accompanied me to deliver them. I wanted my son to experience the joy of tending to Christ by showing kindness to the least of our brethren.
Nothing any of us could find under a tree or in a stocking could match the gift of giving hope to those who have none and joy to those who forgot what it feels like to be remembered. Just like we learned to let go of the clutter and the possessions we thought we could never live without, my prayer is that we can walk away from the hype and the greed that has hijacked Christmas and expect nothing except the opportunity to serve others, seeing Christ in the "distressing disguise of the poor" that Blessed Mother Teresa so often mentioned.