Ah, Christmas. That wonderful, magical time of year when family comes together and celebrates the birth of Christ, or unity, or just being together in general. The season where everyone puts aside their differences and strives to make the world a better place. Sound familiar?
Christmas wasn't like that this year. Or rather, I should say, we tried to make Christmas that this year, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control.
My family celebrates on Christmas Eve. We all get together with our multitude of children and exchange gifts. The adults each draw a name and buy for just that one other adult; the children are showered with gifts by all. We like it this way. Except that this Christmas Eve, half the family were ill, so we had to postpone our family celebration to the 26th. I actually was quite relieved to stay home Christmas Eve, because...
One of my children was overlooked this year. Not by us, but by two sources that should have known better. He was completely ignored on Christmas by these sources, although his siblings received gifts, and he was feeling it. He spent a good portion of the afternoon on the 24th shut in his room, not moving or speaking. I finally managed to draw him out with promises of opening one present that evening when his dad came home from work.
So he had a good and cheerful evening, and even got up early Christmas Day to open gifts with our small family. He was smiling and happy and laughing, until he got a phone call. A call that reminded him of being ignored, and how very painful that can be. Then he retreated to his room and sat with a blanket over his head--sat there for hours, while I pleaded and begged for him to please come out and be happy.
In desperation, I asked his friends if they could please do something. They left their family and came over. They tried all they could think of to pull him out. They left at last, discouraged. One came back. This time he finally emerged--late afternoon--and went off to play and have fun. I was so relieved, I nearly cried.
They all came back for dinner, which was loud and rambunctious, as only boys can make it. We laughed and had a jolly time.
So then, after being reminded of how very thoughtless people can be, we celebrated with my family on the 26th...and I was reminded once again of how very wonderful my family is. My son was positively showered with gifts, many more than he expected, by people who almost never see him. They took time out of their busy schedules and money out of their wallets to bless him and make his Christmas bright. He was thoroughly overwhelmed in the best of ways.
So although Christmas started off with depression and pain, it ended with happiness and joy, thanks to the goodness of so many people. Because although Christmas isn't about how many presents one gives or gets, it is about Love. Ignoring those who should be remembered--even in a small way--is not Love. Deliberately leaving someone out is not Love. Love is when people see a need and give--not for what they can get in return, but just with the intention of blessing someone and spreading happiness. Love is seeing someone who may never return the blessing, and choosing to give and bless anyway. Love gives--whether it be time, attention, or money.
And my family--in-laws, friends who've become like family, and those bound by blood--is full of Love.