Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Letter to Christmas:
Dear Christmas,
Where are you?

This is the question that Cindy Lou Hoo asks and sings in the The Grinch. Where are you Christmas? For the past week, this is what I’ve been singing (not in front of anyone, of course).

Now don’t get me wrong – I KNOW what you, Christmas, are really about. I grew up as a preacher’s daughter. Besides being observed at every moment for the slightest infraction of thought, word or deed, this also meant I attended church anywhere from three to five times a week. Between church, youth group, choir, Wednesday night bible study, and the extra holidays, well….I obviously know what Christmas is all about -- Christ, the gift and Word of heaven.

But knowing something and feeling something aren’t the same.

And this year, I am asking where are you, Christmas?

Not in the mall where the over-decorating (which arrived at Halloween) screams at me to spend money I don’t have on things no one needs.

Not in my teen’s faces as they study for exams and attempt to survive the winter calendar of activities.

Not in the night where our family went to buy a Christmas tree and argued over its size until my daughter went and sat in the car alone. (Is it only in movies that the Christmas tree buying-thing is romantic??)

Not in the endless errands I must run in the rain, in the cold with irritated drivers all around me in Atlanta traffic.

Not in the hanging of the garland (where I almost fell off the ladder), nor in the tangled lights I dragged up from the basement.

So where are you?

Well, last night I found you, and now I see you everywhere.
I dressed up, grabbed my daughter, sister and mother and went to the FOX Theater to hear Amy Grant and Vince Gill’s Christmas concert. And there you were – the Spirit of Christmas -- in the heart-mending songs of a Silent Night, a Holy Night, in the fun songs of Winter Wonderland, in the melancholy voices of two of the most talented singer/songwriters known. You were there in the sadness of the reminder about those who won’t be coming home this year, and those loved ones we’ll miss, or those without a home or love.

Now you’re everywhere, sweet Spirit of Christmas:
In my ten year old who writes long letters to his stuffed elf, expecting an answer.

In my sister, mother and daughter together, laughing about jokes only we understand.

In my sixteen year old daughter when she came to help me hang the lights on the tree because the boys were too busy watching football.

In my fourteen year old son when he jumped out of the car to take his history exam, and then tossed over his shoulder, “I love you, Mom.”

In the phone call from a friend I love, at the moment I needed it the most.
In a lunch with my college girlfriends where we laughed so loud and long that I remembered who I am.
Sometimes I have to be reminded of what I already know: you, Christmas, are in the small grace-filled moments of our life. And you always have been.

Patti Callahan Henry is the National Bestselling author of four novels with Penguin/NAL. (Losing the Moon, Where the River Runs, When Light Breaks, Betweeen the Tides). THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS was released on June 3, 2008. Visit her at http://www.patticallahanhenry.com/content/index.asp


Kristy Kiernan said...

This was lovely, Patti. Just got back from Atlanta, sorry I didn't think to get in touch! We went to Bacchanalia, Tamarind, the High, the aquarium, the zoo, Vickery's, Fuego...we did it all! Loved midtown, and wanted to go back to the Fox on New Year's to see Derek Trucks, but can't swing it. So pleased you had such a wonderful experience there. Will be in touch next time we get up there for sure.

Jackie K Cooper said...

Patti -

What a great piece of writing! It certainly touched my heart. Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas.