one of my favorite fall/christmas traditions, one that i’ve kept every year since i was 6 or 7, is to read straight through the first 4 christmas in my heart books, delightfully and unashamedly sappy collections of christmas stories. the storylines are quite predictable; they set up a winter conflict, and end with its resolution on christmas day (or christmas eve, to change things up a bit.) estranged lovers find love, sad people find happiness, orphans find parents, and sad, bitter, childless people (who usually lost a child at christmas) find heartwarming orphans in informal ceremonies that usually involve some combination of surprise snowfalls, unexpected deliveries of christmas trees and clear, starry nights.
this tradition is among the many that will not be kept this year. others may include but are not limited to:
listening to christmas music
decorating for fall
decorating for christmas
watching christmas movies
sending christmas cards
and being merry.
i will probably keep the traditions of eggnog chai (because i’m a hedonist) and buying christmas presents for people (because it’s so darn fun, and there’s no rule that they have to be wrapped in christmasy paper).
the fiery leaves burn; the encroaching darkness threatens to swallow; the christmas songs mock. and the traditions? they lie dormant, waiting to be awakened some other season. the anticipation is a cruel shadow of last year’s anticipation; preparing for christmas was synonymous with preparing for my christmas baby.
in real life, orphans rarely drop out of the sky on christmas eve, bringing with them snow and hope. and even if they did, orphans are not cure-alls.
dare i admit that i’m not excited to celebrate another christmas baby? a christmas baby who got to live for 33 whole years? that’s the same amount of time that my husband has lived. 33 years is a long time to have with your baby.
don’t misunderstand me – i don’t reject that christmas baby.
i don’t hate that christmas baby.
i don’t deny that christmas baby.
on the contrary, i trust that christmas baby’s ability to find a different way to reach me: one that doesn’t involve … well … christmas. i trust emmanuel’s ability to transcend songs and scenes and celebrations of which he is the subject.
maybe i’ll find christmas again someday, but it probably won’t be this year. and i know that, even though i’ve lost christmas for now, even though i’ve lost my baby for now, i haven’t lost christ. and though the sky is obscured behind snowless clouds, i haven’t lost it forever, either.