I know you are so tired of hearing about our Christmas card by now, and even more tired of me moaning and groaning about this year. But, at the eleventh hour, and after a slight altercation at the post office wherein I found out that the postal employee had made me purchase and affix the wrong number of stamps to some 80 cards, our cards went marching out to loved ones around the country and globe. On the front we had this jolly photo and cheery line from a Christmas carol: All is calm, all is bright. On the back, we proceeded to write a long letter detailing exactly how this year was anything BUT calm and frequently seemed less than bright.
But now it is the Christmas season, where Christmas and New Years provide a brief respite from real time, a reflective pause before 2014 surrenders to 2015. We have filled this week with some wonderful things, including my high school friends’ annual White Elephant gift party, where James and I gifted our debut musical album, “Merry AMERICAN Christmas.” It was, obviously, us singing patriotic-holiday mashups sans music… recorded on our phones in the car. It was, obviously, horrendous and thus wonderful. [This is the moment where I beg James to let me share one of the songs here, and he, cognizant of the detriment that would have to any future dignified employment, refuses.]
When I was digging in the closet one night for wrapping paper, I came across a folder marked “Christmas Cards.” I get my love of holiday cards and letters from my parents, who have devotedly sent out a full holiday update letter almost every year of their marriage. We spread them across the table and read through our family history. One letter struck home, and both James and I read it with lumps in our throats. It was early in their marriage, years before any of us were born, and the letter started with excitement that the year was ending. It detailed a period they had had to spend living apart, uncertainty about jobs and careers, and just the general feeling that Christmas, and all its hope of newness and revival, couldn’t come fast enough.
In reading over their year, so much like our own, I was reminded how unoriginal we are in our “hard” year. So many people have had, are having, or will have years that end in you just being happy that the next one is starting. Really, I am a just terrible whiner, because we didn’t bury anyone this year, didn’t battle illness, didn’t face searing pain or crushing loss. Just routine hardness, the type that frequently typifies humanity as a whole because it is woven into the fabric of existence. Many of us crawl towards Christmas just being exhausted.
I guess that is what Christmas is always about, that moment when “the weary world rejoices.” We imagine it being loud bells and trumpets, all “Joy to the World” and whatnot, but have you ever seen a weary anything rejoice with that much energy? The weary rejoice by collapsing in tears, exhausted and comforted all at once. We sang through our entire carol book on Christmas Eve, and so many are laced with this weary merriness, phrases that remind is that the little baby who comes means that things will be ok , an assurance that a broken world desperately needs. All of Advent builds up to that, the moment when all of humanity breathes a sigh of relief. It is the very essence of Christmas, one that resounded especially clear through our weary home this year.
Image from here.
PS: Another great Christmas post about weariness here.