Musings & Younger Perspectives:
A Time for Christmas | By Megan Ernst Kilpatrick

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
-Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
-Ecclesiastes 3:1;11

Christmas is special. Like, SPECIAL. I wait for it all year, and then when it finally comes around, I go bonkers. Ornaments and stockings and candy and cookies and carols and cards and presents and evergreen and the whole shebang. I do Christmas hardcore. It’s a tradition/character trait/personality disorder I will take pleasure in passing down to my future children. When I was a kid, it took the four of us (dad watched football) a whole day to lug the boxes out of the garage and decorate the house. And I think like most families, we put our own unique spin on the holidays. We finished the homemade Almond Roca by melting the chocolate with a hair dryer. My stocking had a sleigh bell sewed onto the front of it to keep me from sneaking peeks at its contents. And since no one wanted their ornaments in the back, the tree always had a little lean to it.

As I write this, it’s the beginning of November. Halloween candy is now massively marked down, the leaves are turning all shades of beautiful, and cranberry sauce and boxed stuffing are just starting to take center stage on the grocery store displays. And…Christmas decorations have been in stores for almost a month now. To which my inner Scrooge says, “Bah humbug.”

See, here’s the thing: as much as my family loved Christmas, we didn’t start celebrating early. Christmas started promptly the day after Thanksgiving and ended promptly on New Year’s Day. That’s just how it was—a big part of the thrill was knowing we had to wait all year for it. Inherently (and perhaps unintentionally), my parents taught me an important message: to everything there is a season. Even things we love have to end, in order to make room for what’s coming next.

As I move through the seasons of my own life, I’ve come to appreciate more and more that it’s the meaning of the holidays that make it special, not the things. With each new stage in my life I’ve had to redefine how I hold cherished traditions dear—when I went to college, moved out on my own, after my mom passed away, when I got married. The rituals and traditions change, the meaning doesn’t. The first time I couldn’t go home for Christmas (because of work), I cried. Then I looked at it as an opportunity—I could sleep in as late as I wanted! I could go to a Christmas Day church service! I could spend the day with extended family that I didn’t get to see very often! A bleak prospect turned into an exciting opportunity, because I was willing to be present – in the present – instead of lamenting the loss of the traditions of the past. After I got married, my husband and I began the delicate balancing act of figuring out which family would get which holiday, a dance we affectionately refer to as the ‘in-law shuffle.’ We learned that we do holidays very differently, which has given us an opportunity to create our own traditions to fit our new family.

Like Ecclesiastes teaches us, there’s a time for everything, and it’s important to be present in each season and appreciate them each in their own way. There’s a time for Christmas, and also for Halloween and Thanksgiving. There’s a time to anticipate, a time to prepare, a time to celebrate, and a time to put the decorations back in the garage. Christmas has to end for Epiphany to begin. During this time of Advent, of preparing and anticipating and waiting, I hope that you each are able to take time to be present in the present, and appreciate that which makes this season truly special—loved ones near and far, grace and peace and wonder, and the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Christmas was really hard after my mom died, because she was such a big part of those special traditions. If you or someone you know is grappling with feelings of loss, heartbreak, or pain during this holiday season, please know that you are not alone. Many churches and communities host “Blue Christmas” services, specifically for people who experience rough times during the holidays. I pray that you find peace and hope, and know that this too is a season that will pass.

Megan Kilpatrick is a member of Puyallup UMC.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia/Jeff Weese. Learn more about this photo here.
Download Channels 59 here.

Leave a Reply