Yesterday, I went shopping three times. I am a list-maker, yet each time I departed I left list-less. And, at the end of it all I felt listless ;-).
My mind was clear with my tasks when I departed, so why would I need a list?! Yet somehow, each time I navigated my van into a parking space outside of a box store, my mind started to scramble. And, as I entered each store, taking in the copious amounts of merchandise and engaging in the bustle, my mind became a blur. My purpose was uncertain.
Somehow, I limped along and survived three inefficient shopping trips.
Christmas is seven days away. SEVEN!
As I was out and about, I ran into several people I knew. As I stood in line at Old Navy, one friend told me that she only had a little wrapping left to do.
A little wrapping! That’s it?!
Oh my goodness. I knew I was behind, but apparently I am very, very behind. Not only do I have a lot of wrapping left to do (all of it to be exact), but I also still have a bit of shopping still to do!
As I said here, it will all get done or some to-dos will be reclassified to unimportant and slashed on the list versus joyfully checked off.
We are traveling for the holidays. As a matter of fact, in all of my years, there is only one year I have not gone ‘home’ for Christmas. When our twins were born, the pediatrician ‘forbid’ us from going anywhere where there would be a substantial presence of people. Since I have a big family, we didn’t travel and instead had a cozy Christmas at our home.
This year, we will do as we have for all of the other years. We will drive to Virginia and pile into my parents’ house, where stockings overtake the chimney and presents pile out into the living room floor.
No tree has ever been able to keep the gifts contained under its boughs.
Twenty-nine people of all ages and sizes spill off of sofas and over the arms of chairs. Christmas morning mayhem ensues with packages being distributed and hunted through by little hands, whose hearts wish for each present they pluck from the pile to have their name on the tag.
Sometimes they make out who it is for and pass it along. Other times, they toss it to the side and continue to excavate through the brightly wrapped boxes until they find one with their name on it.
Christmas is an evolution of traditions. At its core it always remains mostly the same, but as time passes the details of what surrounds the holiday core shift or fall out of orbit entirely. Responsibilities change. Parents become grandparents. Children become moms and dads, aunts and uncles. Wants shift to needs. Focus turns to giving and creating the splendor versus receiving it.
It comes with the birth of a new generation, who steps into the core and changes the orbit.
Madge, was my grandfather’s second wife. I never knew my grandmother; she passed away before I was born. Madge and my grandfather always hosted a lovely gathering on Christmas Eve. I recall being just tall enough where I could see the spread of treats and could spot the delicious cheese biscuit crackers she made from scratch. I can almost feel them crumbling in my hand.
My mother gave me two cheese biscuit recipes, but she isn’t sure which one is the right one. And, I haven’t tried them out to see.
One Christmas Eve Madge hosted her gathering for the last time. Time took hold of her tradition, pulled it out of orbit and folded it into memories. “She just isn’t doing it anymore.” My mom explained.
The line was long at Old Navy. My friend told me, that for the first time in many years, she and her family are going home for Christmas. Breaking from recent tradition and shifting the orbits.
“It changes,” we discussed. There is a weight to the change, sometimes a critical reason at its helm. A shift of time is usually the cause.
Again, the core is the same. But, it is the orbit, where what was tried and true and reliable, breaks away like a shooting star. It falls out brilliant, and fades away. Bright speckles of it are left in fragmented memories, recipes and photographs. And, from the core evolves the new orbitals. Stunning, fresh, joyful and bright. Uncertain. Yet, they forge through and become the tried and true.
It happens this way so on and so on.
That it is the way it has been for all of eternity. Despite sadness of what was and uncertainty of what is to be, there is great comfort in knowing that this is how it is supposed to happen.
Joy, thankfulness, peace and happiness for the core of Christmas and for the traditions that orbit, the memories of those that no longer do, and the anticipation of those to come.
The Christmas Stocking
Stockings have been hung as part of Christmas tradition for centuries. Legend has it that the tradition started when a recently widowed man, who was the father of three girls, was struggling to make ends meet. He worried that because of their struggles, it would be impossible for his daughters to marry.
As he was wandering through town, St. Nicholas heard the villagers discussing the father’s situation. Knowing that the man would refuse charity, St. Nicholas came into the family’s house and found the girls’ laundered stockings hanging by the fire to dry. He put gold coins into each stocking and disappeared.
Legend says that each daughter was then able to get married.
In some cultures, oranges are placed into stockings as symbols of gold. These follow the idea that St. Nicholas placed gold balls into the daughters’ stockings instead of coins.