Nothing really has changed about Christmas. Every year, I get excited to put the lights up on the tree and string them across the front of my home. There is something so gratifying about putting lights on my home for me. It's mine. What lives in it is mine, and I am theirs. I work all week and enjoy listening to the same Christmas music on my way that I listened to last year and the years before. They all take me back to the reasons I have always loved Christmas. No matter how bad things had been for me in my life, there was always a savior for me on Christmas.
I was such a lonely kid. But when I think about Christmas now and remember, everything was so beautiful and perfect. I'd sleep under the Christmas tree, or alternate between the tree and the floor heat register and watch the lights promise me something that no human could ever fulfill in me. I can't think of a single Christmas growing up that was ruined by anything. I'm sure my mom had a few, but she was strong enough to not let me see that. She was always really good at redirection with those kinds of things.
I moved out and experienced Christmas on my own. This was in a really bad time in my life...the worst actually. Christmas became a thing of sadness for me for reasons I could not even describe at the time. I'd think about all of these great Christmases and get really sad and feel more lonely. So I'd walk around the neighborhood and look into people's front windows to see them be families. Super Creepy, I know.
I married this woman this one day, and got what I was promised under that tree. I made it my mission to string up the lights on Thanksgiving or a day or two after. Took them down in March, but who's counting. I got to be the family in that front window. My kids came into the world and the only thing I wanted to do was what my mom did for me. I wanted them to believe something very special about Christmas. Something very comforting about a savior being born that would make it all better. Even if everything seemed hopeless.
The last bit of Christmases have been marred with some pretty terrible stuff. It makes it difficult because I have become at odds with my favorite time of the year. The feeling now makes me so happy and so profoundly sad. My favorite thing is when I get to see Andy and when I get to see Jeff and his family. These are people that are family to me and I don't get to see them much. Then, that reminds me that two of the most influential people in my life aren't here anymore, and that is my worst thing.
I guess the word I would use to descibe it is: Disappointment.
They were supposed to always be here, with me and for me. But they aren't anywhere I can see them. Me and Will used to cut class and sit on top of his car in the park to kill time. We weren't killing time. We were making the very best of it. We would talk about our future and we were both present in each other's. Me and Joe use to used to carve our names on everything because we wanted to come back decades later and remember what we were when we were kids. So I guess the Ghosts of Christmas' past come to haunt me now.
The good news.
God is still good. Jesus is still our savior. I am still the guy I wanted to be in that front window, albeit a bit more broken. I string up the lights and love watching my kids play in the snow that is now blanketing Michigan, giving millions of kids a day off of school tomorrow. I shield my kids from the things they don't have to see. I think of times with my brothers who were everything but blood to me, and smile. I don't get lonely at Christmas anymore. I am full. I am what little kids under trees want when they are praying hopefully and lonely to an invisible God.
God is good.
God is with us.
God saved me.
Even when it hurts everything inside me to admit.
Thanks for reading...Z