When November came around this year, I was surprised that I hadn’t already covered the entire house in wreaths, Christmas trees (yes, I often have multiple), and tacky tinsel. I hadn’t even created a single Christmas playlist with my favourite Christmas trap music that often leads to my sister considering moving out (she did this month, and I’m sure it wasn’t related to my music in any way). Christmas had always been my favourite time of the year, and I was surprised that I didn’t feel too excited about it this year.
November and December this year had been filled with exams and many stress-filled runs to the hospital and the vet, and an overwhelming sense of gloom because of the pandemic, that I had very little time for Christmas cheer. It doesn’t help that Sri Lanka, with its 30 degrees temperature, doesn’t exactly give off Christmas vibes. However, I was still worried that maybe Christmas all these years had been very materialistic to me. Perhaps I had enjoyed the shopping, and the presents, and the celebrations that I had forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Now, faced with a pandemic and unable to do all the above, maybe Christmas wasn’t that special to me after all.
I puzzled over this for quite some time. Finally, I realized that Christmas to me is about enjoying and celebrating family. This might sound strange since Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating Jesus’ birth. Still, I find myself reflecting on his birth and sacrifice more over Easter. Over Christmas, I choose instead to celebrate the family that God has given me. Coming to Earth and dying for me was already a massive gift I didn’t deserve but given to me because of God’s kindness. He didn’t have to also bless me with my family. But he did, and so I use Christmas to celebrate them – my parents, my siblings, my aunts, uncles, cousins, my dog, cat, and my cousins’ dogs and cats - and thank God for all of them. This is why the Christmas season in our home is usually filled with Christmas dinners with my huge extended family. My mother baking trays of Christmas cake for family and for our neighbors. My father playing Bing Crosby and Jim Reeves while I sneak in a few Micheal Buble tracks. My sister playing Christmas hymns on the piano while my dog rushes over to the piano, and me picking up the violin for the only month of the year. Sleeping late on Christmas eve because my sister and I were wrapping presents last minute, and going to Church at 8am on Christmas morning half-asleep. Forcing my cousins to play board games, and then buying them more board games as presents. In all of this, I feel an overwhelming sense of family and togetherness.
Coming to Earth and dying for me was already a massive gift I didn’t deserve but given to me because of God’s kindness. He didn’t have to also bless me with my family.
So this year, due to the pandemic, Christmas feels less like Christmas because I can’t celebrate with all my family. And this means that I am not as filled with the Christmas spirit. But I’m trying to teach myself over this Christmas, and over this year, to appreciate the things and people around me at this moment. This Christmas, I’m thankful that my father can come home after being stuck abroad because of the pandemic, that my dog had a successful surgery and can enjoy all the Christmas food with us, that my grandmother recovered from her heart-attack and can celebrate another Christmas with us, that we have the technology to call all the family we can’t see, and for the friends, I’ve grown closer to during quarantine. But most importantly, I’m glad this year that Jesus is the family that is always with me and who has brought me through one of the most stressful and sometimes lonely years. Maybe this Christmas, although quieter, will be a chance for me to take a step back from celebrating my family to celebrating and being thankful for Jesus more, and I am happier for that.
Maybe this Christmas, although quieter, will be a chance for me to take a step back from celebrating my family to celebrating and being thankful for Jesus more, and I am happier for that.
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