Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Curmudgeon

A Christmas picture of most
but not all the Alter bunch
Facebook has been reminding us a lot lately that for many people the holidays are not the joyful family time that most of us dream of. Some are grieving, or sick, or lonely. It can be a hard time to face, with memories of happier times making the bad times all the harder. It's good advice, and something we should all keep in mind. Tonight I am, as I have been every Christmas of my life, surrounded by family, so I can't speak for the deep depression that some feel at the holidays.
But I've decided that joy at Christmas and feeling the spirit is a two-way street. If you're blue and alone, go serve at a soup kitchen, go to a church carol sing, reach out to a neighbor who may be alone or not realize that you are. My kids are off caroling tonight while I babysit the youngest who was too tired to go. But they'll come back, full of hot chocolate and cider, and bringing the Christmas spirit with them.
I sat at a mall table today with a young woman who was alone. Actually I asked if she minded if I sat there while my family decided what to do next. It was, I explained, like herding cats. She smiled and was gracious, but when several of my family descended on the table to eat cupcakes, she excused herself. I said we didn't mean to rush her off, and she said no, she really needed to go. But I worried about her the rest of the day. She didn't seem capable of reaching out to me like the woman I met in line tonight waiting for our turn at the restroom. By the time we parted, we were old friends. Christmas does that to some people. I wish others could get that spirit .
Last night I decided I was a being a bit of a curmudgeon myself, withdrawing into myself. Maybe I was remembering Christmases when the grandkids were young, cuddly, and awed by the whole thing, or maybe it was even my children's early Christmases. But everything seemed hectic and loud and disorganized to me. When I went to bed, I talked to the Lord about it and resolved not to think so much about how I was feeling and to think more about how my family was feeling. I wanted to make them glad I was in the midst of them.
This morning when I got up the first thing I did was to wash my hair and put on makeup. It made an enormous difference in my attitude, and I've had a terrific day.
I wish for each of you a joyous Christmas. If you celebrate, I wish you may feel the spirit of the gift of the Christ Child bringing joy, hope and peace to the world. If you don't celebrate the holy day, I wish for you the joy of the season.

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