It used to be that Christmas was all flashy and a production of sorts. My dad was crazy about Christmas and fought to make the house really sparkle. Even in hard financial times I remember reading through the JCPenney catalog, circling what I wanted (rock polisher for my budding archaeologist career) and getting some of the things (crazy purple cat footie pajamas).
This year wasn’t exactly a year for THAT glitzy Christmas glamour. Though my sweatpants may be a step away from.
\\ A Little Christmas Background
To say I have a crazy family would be an understatement. If you are one of those people who needs extra clarification as to what brand of crazy or why I would say such things on “the most wonderful day of the year” I have one word for you, Italian. I don’t know why that’s an excuse, but it totally is. You have to be one to fully know. TRUST ME. Mafia is the least scary part, and I’m not fully convinced my grandpa isn’t part of it anyway.
Now, to say I love that crazy family would be redundant because I just spent Christmas with them and gosh darn, I meant every second I spent giving hugs and catching up.
\\ More Nuggets of Golden Factoids
Seven years ago my mom remarried. Three years ago my younger sister got married to her childhood sweetheart. These facts add to the crazy because they are… southern boys. I love them, too. It’s just that we’re from New Jersey originally and so my family is like Jersey Italian: arms flailing, shout talking, put-on-a-full-pot-of-coffee-any-time-of-day, eat garlic raw (“It’s good for your heart!” …ew), Italian. My stepdad is Irish and if you are what you eat then he’s going to transform into a potato any second now. My bro-in-law is just as loud and boisterous as the Italians but he also goes hunting and has a camo case for his cell phone.
All that said, here are five highlights from Crazy Family Christmas 2011:
1. \\ Machete – My bro-in-law got a Bear Grylls knife and flint rock set… aaaaand a machete. Said bro-in-law used said machete to CHOP DOWN A TREE in their backyard. The real highlight was when he didn’t know that I already knew and he proudly said, “Come here, I want to show you something in the backyard!” Barefoot in the dark I gingerly trudged toward the sound of him rustling the fallen branches, “Don’t worry cuz, follow me and you won’t step in anything.”
2. \\ Christmas boycott 2011 – A certain someone I know opted out of Christmas this year. They wouldn’t even look at their presents or eat Christmas food. I have to hand it to them, the sheer will power it takes to put that much energy into not celebrating the most joyful time of year is enough to get a chuckle from me. This would be more than I can bare, because other than love and God and laughter and stuff, Christmas as a holiday has two of my all-time favorite things: free food and opening things.
3. \\ Grandma ran over… a grapevine, a kitchen island, a… – We all sat and shared lots of good-hearted stories from my grandma, some being about her driving. We shared classics like when she once hit the gas instead of the brakes and drove all the way into her backyard and into their grapevines. No grapes were harmed. Nana? Oh, she’s great, she does this a lot. I also had the opportunity to sit and soak up stories about her past. She’s an adventurously strong woman of faith.
4. \\ Peanut Butter Pie – Our family tradition is apparently to make 4 times more food than necessary for the number of people attending. My grandma sent every single person home with an entire peanut butter pie. I almost left without one when those traitorous word slipped from my mouth, “Mmm, it looks delicious.” I carried my personal P.B.P. to the car soon afterward.
5. \\ Solitude – Yes, yes, holidays are about joy and love and others and sharing. Yes, I know. This Christmas was just… solitude-y. I made that word up. Whatever. I just found a lot of moments. It was like I was soaking up my last Christmas as it is now. Like, things will change next year somehow and I anticipate it greatly. Not that things aren’t right and good now, but things are developing and growing and I anticipate it and long after it in a sense. I thought a lot about this during those quiet moments. What is Christmas? Is THIS all Christmas? So, God came to earth as Jesus. I mean, he came to redeem and save us.
He came to us.
That’s what hit me as I walked through the neighborhood on the street my entire extended family shares. I noticed the invisible bike tracks from where I rode my bike as a kid down those streets. I remembered running and laughing. Hideaways along the path where I felt sad, scared, or lonely. I saw rocks along the edge that I wondered at them even having been around long enough to have heard our laughter as we rode bikes frantically or jumped over sprinklers and hid from SuperSoakers in the summertime.
The road was empty and silent. I thought, “Unto US a child is born. Unto US a child is given.” To us. Our gift is not in fancy productions or everyone getting along and celebrating together. It is in together but it’s also alone. Get a little lonely and grow. Be in solitude and just BE because your gift isn’t the really killer boots your mom gave you or the wicked scarf your sis picked out, even though it is fun to give and receive and celebrate.
Our gift is in redemption, heavy burdens lifted, sins cleansed, us clean, for US, to US, no caveats or take-backs. My sister will borrow my scarf, perhaps, but God won’t take this back.
Cherish the moments alone with God, as you walk, drive, ride, roll in the grass or snow, whatever. Cherish it, it’s everything.
Merry Christmas! From my crazies to yours. 😉