Ask Me Next Year - Elisabeth Klein
I remember having a revelation a few months before my wedding. I had spent years dreaming about it and months planning it and thousands of my father’s dollars creating it and it hit me…that six hours from ceremony’s beginning to reception’s end would move at the same pace as any old six hours. Just because it was my long-dreamed of wedding day didn’t make the actual day and time stand still, or even slow down a bit. 

I do this to other occasions as well.  I expect (still at 41) to actually feel different on my birthday. Each year. And I assume vacations will have an otherworldly slow pace to them, with deeper-hued memories being burned into my subconscious. 

 

And then there’s Christmas. It’s one day and yet we build it up as a culture now starting just after Halloween. For two months you hear, “Are you ready for Christmas?” People only mean one thing when they ask this, “Have you done all the shopping, card-writing, and baking you need to do before the big day comes? Because if not, well then, you have failed at Christmas.” 

My personal expectations for Christmas aren’t along the material or cookie lines but I do have some nonetheless. I want the month of December to be magically more peaceful. I want the day of to be divinely ethereal with the presence of the Baby Jesus ever at the forefront of my mind and my children’s minds. 

I expect and hope and want things out of a day that a day was never intended to give. 

This year, I’m learning something new even though it feels like I’m learning nothing at all (which again adds to the guilt as every year I should be learning something new about Jesus at Christmas if I don’t want to fail at Christmas…) 

I sat in a room of women this morning, some I knew, some I’d just met. The question thrown out was simply, “Share something about Christmas, what it means to you…” 

I listened to several women, practically hoping I wouldn’t have to go. That no one would notice if I didn’t say anything. But I finally spoke up and said something like this, “I’ve been sitting here trying to think of something sweet or sentimental to say but this year, I’ve got nothing.” I went on to say that this year, my husband and I are officially apart and not getting back together. This year, I don’t know if my kids will be with me on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at all. This year, it’s just been quiet and not building up to anything because I don’t know what I’m building up to. This year is just hard, I said. 

And then I paused because I desperately like to wrap up my thoughts on a better note than that, especially at what was supposed to be a sweet Christmas get-together, and I said, “But Jesus is still perfect. And he’s still coming. {Pause} But ask me this question next year…” 

I am not giving my kids a typical Christmas this year. I’m just not. I know there’s still time, but if I were to all of the sudden “get in the Christmas spirit”, they’d know it would be fake. This year I’m limping into Christmas. No huge gifts. No huge gatherings. Quiet, quiet, quiet. Just getting through. 

But some things don’t change.  I still know Jesus is on his way and, mysteriously, is already here with me and with us.  I still love him with all my heart, even if I don’t get to be with my kids.  I still want the three of us to get it. And maybe that’s why it’ll be okay that Christmas is different this year…maybe how I’ve been doing it – with all that revving up only for an actual regular day clouded with too-high-expectations to come and go and maybe disappoint – isn’t what my kids should be learning to carry on anyway. 

So this year, I don’t have a Christmas miracle to share (other than I’m still standing, which, I guess, is a miracle) and I’m not filled with an over-the-top out-of-the-ordinary sticky-sweet kinda-fake glee, but Jesus and I have each other.  And I’ll wait on him as long as it takes.

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.