Christmas is such a wonderful time of joy. Of life. Of promise. Of God given love.
But fears and regrets and fears of possible future regrets seem to dominate this joyous season. I see it every day in other folks. And I feel it most days around this time of year.
I should be writing about happy things right now. I really should. But this is intended for folks like me. Folks who feel anxious and regretful at this time of year.
I will be honest here. I have been in a real sort of funk lately. Part of me wants to engage in the season. But a major part of me wants to just fall asleep until I awaken on January 2. For me, this seems to happen every year at this time.
I have very fond memories of waking up as a child to find that Santa left for me a red Rollfast. Or a basketball. A baseball glove. Or a watch or underwear!
My favorite gift may have been the belt my brother hung on the tree for me one year. He didn’t even wrap it. I hope he does not regret the delivery of that gift. It’s definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories.
I also have memories of my mom and her incredibly stressful moments. Like most moms back then, all she wanted was a Norman Rockwell kind of real life image on Christmas day. Like most moms, she never really achieved that goal.
I don’t know. Maybe the same pressure my mom felt all those years ago is the same pressure that drags many of us down.
I was never a Rockwell guy, but I do remember being extremely diligent, regardless of my anxiety, in trying to find or create the perfect gifts for my young son. I failed miserably. And the regrets are abundant. Thank God my son’s mom was more diligent!
This morning, I saw one of my grandsons, his brother and mom. That simple and innocent engagement brought me back from the doldrums. There were no gifts exchanged. Just hugs and smiles and laughs and the God driven words, “I love you.”
Maybe others feel the same as me. Maybe the regrets and fears of future ones hamper us all. But God has sort of lead me down a path that makes me less anxious for January 2 these days. It’s become a tradition for me.
Every Christmas Eve, for almost a decade, I have visited a Walgreens or Dollar General and bought simple gifts that my grandchildren might enjoy. Then I find, as I have for decades, a local bar, have two drinks, toast my dad and mom, and thank God for the opportunity to share just a few moments with a bartender I don’t even know.
And my grandchildren? They love the stupid ten-dollar gifts from Walgreens and Dollar General.
Their responses show me the joy and promise of life.
And their God given love, on every Christmas morning, replaces all of my fears and regrets.
All of them.
Merry Christmas, y’all! And cheers!