Dynamic Woman — Changing Times
The Less Than Perfect Christmas
Writers asked to do novel excerpts on Christmas themes might assume readers expect perfect Christmas scenes with the family gathered around the tree celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth. But this Hallmark Christmas moment is not what many families experience.
The Sheep Walker’s Daughter
I’m ready to go. Yesterday I finished my packing and picked up my airline tickets from the travel agency for my trip to Barcelona. I leave today. Mother and I managed to make it through Christmas—she by working a lot and me by reading a lot. On Christmas Eve, she dragged me to Saint Matthew’s and on Christmas Day we saw Roman Holiday. After the holiday Mom and I had, I’m ready for a holiday of my own.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are always awkward because none of the women in our family cooks. Now that we are a family of two, it’s easier. My grandmother always wanted to go out to eat, but Mom and I didn’t have the heart for it this year. I’m not sentimental about holiday traditions, but I wonder where I’m headed when I spend Christmas with my mother in a movie theater filling up on popcorn and Coke instead of Christmas dinner. Perish that thought. I know where I’m headed. Barcelona!
The Lyre and the Lambs
Christmas comes and goes. The young people go to mass at Saint Nicholas. Andy is a lapsed Catholic and Valerie is just confused. That’s my fault. I didn’t raise her in any faith. I am still working out my own faith, under Father Mike’s direction. Roger believes that all good people go to Heaven. That he is one of the good guys I am sure. That his theology holds water I am no longer so sure.
For a family that has spent money in such a hedonistic way furnishing this house, we are surprisingly frugal with gift-giving. Our joy is in being together. On Christmas night, I have one too many glasses of champagne. After Roger walks Lucy, he comes into the bedroom and finds me sitting in my white leather chair, sobbing into my owl pillow for my sister. Here I sit, safe and warm, enjoying the company of my beautiful daughter and Alaya’s precious son. A world away Alaya and Elazar sit alone in their ancient farmhouse kitchen. One son is in jail. The other, I truly believe, will not be going home any time soon, if ever.
The Perfect Christmas
Christians set the bar high for the holidays. We decorate our homes as if they were department store windows, shop for collectibles and prepare delectables, all in service to an image of perfect love and harmony. But Christ shows up in the less than perfect moments also.
My Christmas Memory
My most precious Christmas memory was the year I tried to stuff my feelings over the chaos in my kid’s lives by preparing the perfect experience. Christmas morning, I poured a Mimosa and sank into the couch to watch the gift exchange. At some point I relaxed too much and emotion flooded my soul. I went into the bedroom to lay down.
When I woke up, my father was sitting next to my bed. I sobbed my heart out about what was happening in my family. He held my hand and listened. This man I would lead to Christ a few years later led me to the foot of my Lord without knowing it. I had to forgive myself for trying too hard to make everything perfect.
Through the different configurations of their family, Dee and Valerie will share many Christmases. Some will be lean; some will be full. They will learn that where the Lord is, there is love.
May the Lord of love be in your midst this Christmas, wherever or however you celebrate.
The Hallmark Christmas moment is not what many families experience.
© Sydney Avey