It is the fourth day of December already, and I'm having kind of a hard time with it this year. Normally I welcome the Christmas season excitedly as soon as Thanksgiving is over. I *love* both Thanksgiving and Christmas ... except this year. This year, everything just seems all wrong. I can't get into it. I might as well just put on my Grinch shirt and embrace the Humbug, I suppose.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, and I couldn't help feeling empty when we left. They are SO far away, and from this distance there is very little I can do that I really feel I should be doing for them. They should be able to call on us--on me--when they need something. And especially now, seeing my father's health failing rapidly ... those miles just got exponentially longer. Maybe it's selfish, I don't know. I just feel like we really NEED to be closer. The girls need to be able to be part of their grandparents' lives, and vice versa. I've realized that fact all the more now that Pete and I have become grandparents. Our little grandson is a thirteen hour drive away, much the same as our own children have been from their grandparents most of their lives. It may be our "norm", but it's not the best of circumstances for any of us. However, it is what it is. There isn't much any of us can do, especially in this horrendous economy, to bring family members closer geographically. There are jobs to consider--or the lack thereof, actually; there is that fact that the real estate market is just awful. The ideal is just not even a possibility.
The holiday "season" kicked off the Friday before Thanksgiving, with a Christmas party (I know ... but there was a purpose for it being that early) for the kids at church. We didn't even have the ugly Christmas sweaters out yet; the girls were only halfheartedly "into" the idea of anything Christmas-y at all. This past weekend marked the "official" Christmas kickoff for us, as Pete, Morgan, and Jamie volunteered with the North Alabama Railroad Museum to help out with the Santa train runs. Pete then came home and packed. The annual Christmas party at church was Sunday, but I couldn't even go to that because I had to take Pete to the airport. He's now in Germany, enjoying the snow and will likely be visiting several Christmas markets while he's there. He'll be home ten days before Christmas, but I just don't know that this year will "feel" like Christmas at all. I forced myself to dig the tree out of the shed and put it up yesterday, but I'm not up for decorating it. Maybe later this week. Just not NOW. Now, I don't really even want to look at those ornaments. It's depressing.
I know I'm going to get at least one lecture about the "meaning of Christmas"; let me just stop you right there. I know WHY Christmas exists--I just can't get wholly on board with it being a religious obligation to put more effort into celebrating the gift of Christ to the world for one day. Don't lecture me--I **KNOW** this does not make me a failure as a Christian. I am very secure in my faith and I know God doesn't judge my faith in Him by my reasons for celebration on December 25th. I'm all for the world joining together and giving thanks for the greatest gift mankind has ever known; I just can't do the "happy birthday Jesus" thing because I can't find any Biblical support for it. I'll be brutally honest with you for a minute--even at almost 40 years of age, I'm not really sure WHAT Christmas means to me, except to say that I love the celebration of family, of generosity, and of togetherness to end the year with. To me, it's the exclamation point of the crazy year where all of us are going in different directions. It's that time where we can all slow down and celebrate being together. That's probably the reason I'm having such a hard time this year; our family is not together at ALL! My parents and aunt are in Florida, our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are in Maryland, our son is in Afghanistan while his wife is here in town, and my hubby is away on business as I'm supposed to be doing all of this preparation. My heart is just not in it this year.
Maybe I just need to go sit on Santa's lap and tell him that my one Christmas wish is to have my ENTIRE family together next year. Yeah, I know. Santa can't deliver on that one. But God can.