Christmas came storming in much too soon with a plethora of images and a menagerie of colors, fabrics, flavors and aromas: twinkling white lights; gaudy, wide-ribbon swirls all over the tree;, lime greens; peppermint bows and sticky candy canes; fresh pine needles; snuggly socks; movie marathons; Christmas tree trails and drive-through light extravaganzas. Whew!
Houses smelled of cinammon, orange spice, juicy ham baking, deviled eggs just a little too fresh, homemade sugar cookies, coffee brewing, and sweet potato casserole wafting from the oven. Someone sneaked a special whiskey into the eggnog and someone else made sure that we said grace before the Christmas feast. Then finally someone handed out the British crackers for a 1-2-3-pop explosion of surprises, crowns and corny jokes.
Each of us had our Christmas customs, rich with memory. We remembered times past, we held dear those who were missing from the table, we rejoiced at the newbies, and we pondered how the heck we pulled it off one more time. We insisted that the little ones stay with us in attentive engagement at the table for priceless discussion as we rumbled through other days, other times and etched forever memories on fragile young minds. Rapt little faces listened, sans any iPhones or electronics. Imagine!
That was tradition, the best of it, the non-technical lore of conversation passed from one generation to the next. Otherwise, how will they know and how will they tell their children and grandchildren of the exquisite heritage represented by the DNA gathered around the Christmas table?
Christmas is a precious opportunity for sharing, for caring, for listening, for airing family heirlooms, for instilling values. But Christmas has one more intrinsic layer. It is the perfect time for reconciliation. Forgiveness is best dressed in Christmas finery around a Christmas table. Months, even years worth of pride, anger, hurt, alienation, damnable scorekeeping, pretending it doesn’t matter, can be erased with the depth and breath of what Christmas is.
Some among my friends found reconcilation this Christmas. Don’t you know the angels were rejoicing? Don’t you know the King of Christmas was smiling down on a family who took a chance to be whole again? To risk loving again, to forgive, to reconcile, to erase the past fumbles and run for the goal post.
That reconciliation was an answer to many prayers and a breathtaking rush of pure Christmas joy.