Merry Christmas everyone! May God bless you and yours and may all your dreams come true in 2013!
My Christmas is always busy and I’ve only just gotten a chance to come online to wish you a Merry Christmas. So, I hope your day went well and that your Christmas has been joyous and full of love and warm family memories.
As I was sitting in church on Christmas Eve with my sisters, my Mom and the Luv Luv, I couldn’t help but feel content – here was something I remember doing – sitting with my entire family in church – a sense of tradition, a little bit of a reminder of the past before we all flew to different corners of the globe. It just felt right, a small dose of the past before adulthood brought all this drama into our lives. On every side of us, not matter where you are in the world, there is murder, rape, crime, hatred surrounding us – it is nice to know that somewhere is still sacred and that some pleasant memories could be recreated so easily.
The priest said quite a few things during his homily that touched home with the Luv Luv and I – one of which was to count your blessings – make sure to treasure what you have because you won’t be able to when it’s gone. Treasure family, treasure love, treasure everything that comes along with it. His example, of course, was the shooting of those poor little children in Conneticut. Imagine being the mother who scolded the child for being tardy, or the father who had no time to say goodbye as he ran out the door to the office. You never know what someone’s day will bring, good or bad – so treasure what you have now while you have it.
Speaking of treasuring things – I have to say that I treasure Christmas – in fact, I treasure it more than any other time of the year. Why? Because every Christmas, my family somehow manages to be home (as in my parents’ home in Trinidad) – because that’s what we know and that’s what we love. This is the one time of the year that I am sure I will see my sisters and my parents – and I look forward to it all year.
The gathering of a family, however, always leads to drama, and I believe that even though we all treasure this time of year because we will see everyone, we also dread it a little because there is not a single year that goes by without some sort of drama, either at Christmas, New Years Day or on my birthday (2nd Jan *hint hint*). I think this is the one thing that mars our Christmas experience…or maybe I should speak for myself. This is the one thing that mars my Christmas experience – the waiting for the drama …. um…and I guess also the drama itself.
I have a theory that I think came true this Christmas – the person(s) who dread the drama most is (are) very often the one(s) who cause it. I mean, if you are busy with Christmas preparations (and most people are in any household), you are already a little stressed. There is not a single person that I know that could say that they are never in the least bit stressed during the holidays, whether it is about buying gifts, decorating, cooking, their in-laws…or a mixture of these and many more stressors. So, you are already stressed and are on edge expecting drama…especially when things are going TOO good….you just wait for the sh*t to hit the fan…and it usually does.
For example, at Christmas time, we have my parents’ friends (family friends) over to lunch, but before that, my Mother cooks a Jamaican style breakfast of johnny cakes and ackee, along with scrambled eggs, toast and ham with onions. Then we try to open presents – I say TRY because very often, we finish breakfast just in time to prepare lunch for my parents’ friends. Very often, we end up opening them in the evening of Christmas Day because it is rude to have the presents being opened with guests in the house.
Oh, I’m not complaining about the presents…the presents are all fine and good and I do appreciate them, but the deeper meaning is that it is the one thing that our family is able to do together in a loving and thankful manner. It is our family time. Our Christmas family time……anyways….
This year, my older sister and I were determined to have our family time BEFORE the guests arrived…unfortunately this caused undue stress and the drama occurred just at that time – to make a long story short – everyone was upset today until this evening, a few hours after all the guests left when we all made up (sorta…I’m pretty sure there are still grudges), opened our presents, smiled, laughed and had cake and tea.
I am not saying this is bad, I’m not complaining about my family – I’m just showing you that drama can occur and will occur no matter what you do. This year, we all tried extra hard to get as much done as possible the two days before Christmas, but the drama still happened. We had to get the food cooked and on the table before the guests came….at the expense of our family time.
I cannot say this was my idea – honestly, I was upset today about the same situation but from a different perspective. When I finally got my sister to let me into her room and talk to me, she brought up an excellent point.
Every year my family goes out of our way and stresses and argues because of the rush to get things ready for our annual guests. We always go to church, smile, enjoy the carols and the Mass and then as soon as we leave the church doors (and sometimes before), it’s all about preparing our home for guests. Our family time and our Christmas experience as a family goes out the window; and by the time we have family time, it’s either rushed or is full of hurt feelings being swallowed just for a peaceful family experience.
This is not Christmas. This is not what it is supposed to be about.
This is not treasuring what you have and counting your blessings.
Our priorities are in the wrong place. Christmas should be about us as a family – not about rushing to get a fish cooked or a cake baked or whatever. It should be about a quiet lunch for our family together and our family time. After all, what is Christmas if it is not about family?
What about tradition? Our tradition is to have the same, exact families over at the same, exact time every year for lunch on Christmas Day. Tradition is important too, right? Is this why we allow ourselves to get in such a tizzy year after year?
Well, tradition is important, but there is nothing wrong with sacrificing or altering tradition slightly when it is no longer relevant.
Let’s look at outdated laws, for example, which I would equate (sorta?) to outdated tradition.
In Jamaica, there is a law that you cannot exhume a dead body unless it is midnight. When my Grandmother died years ago, we wanted to exhume my Grandfather’s body to put into a double grave with her. The problem was that neighbourhood where the the cemetery in which he was buried had become such a bad area that the funeral home workers refused to go there in the day without an armed police escort, much less at midnight. Eventually we had to pay them extra and get them the police escort so that they could go to the cemetery at midnight and exhume the body.
Ironic thing, the area where the new cemetery is has also become a bad (gang) area and we are very careful of when and how we go visit the grave…*sigh* but this is not a discussion about the degradation of society in Jamaica or the world – this is about the outdated laws. The laws were made in the 1800′s when it was relevant due to superstition etc….they are certainly not relevant today – in fact, they are more of a hassle than anything else for those of us in modern society.
In the same way, some traditions impede progress. Some traditions impede the enjoyment of your life the way God meant it to be enjoyed, and therefore, some traditions should or could be tweaked or changed to suit the modern way of life. Notice I said SOME – after all, tradition is still important in itself.
In the end, I guess our parish priest was right – count your blessings. Choose what is important to you and make sure it is the first and foremost in your mind, in your heart and in your life. Treasure what you have and show your love for it/them as often as possible by putting them first in any and all situations in which you can.
All in all, my family has had a good Christmas, regardless of the hiccup today – everyone is full and happy and enjoying their new treats. In fact, as we speak, I am typing from my new iPad cover/keyboard from my husband – which I have to tell you is SO much easier than typing on the iPad itself for this type of writing.
How was your Christmas? What are your holiday traditions? Do you think they should be altered? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.