Christmas, for me, is about one enormous gift.
On 12/24/08 I wrote,
“I love to imagine the unexpected fulfillment of love that first Christmas, breathing for the first time in the manger. His love filled the air like a scent, and moved through the people who came to touch Him. Love was all around.”
Today the boys and I were driving slowly through the dirty and snowy streets to make our way to a new place to eat. We were going to pick up lunch and then head home. I was going to take a break from opening the fridge and staring at its contents for too long, wondering what to make for meal 2 of 3 in this day.
I had my heart set on something fresh and healthy and it felt like a gift, to not have to make it myself. But the parking lot was full, very very full and so I drove through it to go around the block while hoping someone would leave an open space in the meantime. And as I drove I was thinking about other gifts, these amazing gifts I’m continuously given in my life, and the way that I deal with those gifts.
Why is it never enough? I thought. Because I’ve been in this funk and maybe it’s just this time of year and how I’ve been reflecting on nearly a year of sober living and it’s all so much and so heavy sometimes. There are Big Gifts, yes. I see them and I appreciate them and sometimes I still feel so…wrong. Or maybe like the other shoe is going to drop, that thing. Maybe I’m doing that thing, in which I wait for the shoe and shake in my boots rather than just relaxing and being…happy. Maybe it’s that, I thought.
And then I said to myself, It’s Christmas, it’s here and I see the enormous gift and I see all these other gifts and everything in me wants to push it all away.
Then it hit me and I couldn’t believe how simple and obvious it was.
I’m afraid I’m going to screw it up somehow. I’m going to trample on these gifts. I’ve been really really good at doing that in this life.
I do this thing where I start to believe that I won’t do right by my kids or my husband, and I won’t get this book thing to come together, never sending even a page to my agent. I’m going to screw it up, I thought.
I’ve always been so afraid of throwing away gifts because before life with my own family and then even after that gift, I threw away so much. I withdrew, that’s what I knew to do. And old habits die hard and sometimes now I still withdraw and I coil up and turn inside myself and I can’t look at anyone. I say, Wash your hands-I already asked you twice-wash your hands and Put your coat on-put your coat on-put your coat on-I’m not going to say it again-put your coat on. And I don’t like the ugly in my voice and I think it means that I’m failing, that I’m screwing up all my gifts. I watch myself do so much trudging and I figure my value is dropping with every moment that passes in which I do not just buck up already.
But today as I drove around the block, trying to find my way to one small gift of food, I remembered the most enormous gift in my life, this expression of Redemption that came so small and it’s free and I complicate it. I can feel it, this love so enormous, sucking the ugly out of the universe like a well-meaning cobra and taking care of me while it goes.
We’re back home now and I’ve eaten my healthy and fresh. A small gift in a hard day. All my angst and hurt, my thoughts, they are prayers and I’ve been heard amidst the clamor. So in the next three or so days before the Enormous Gift Christmas Day, I’ll be doing some metaphorical driving around the block, not turning in and away in fear, but anticipating and believing that there’s a place of receiving, just for me.
“He brought a love that only He possessed, one that most people had quickly forgotten how to live. It was the gift of all He embodies, a love beyond our comprehension. One that reaches past our despairing seas, pushes through our hate and anger, and fills us up with love. What a perfect gift.”
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds:
“So I’m told, or so the story goes
the people he knew were less than
gamblers and robbers,
drinkers and jokers
All soul searchers
Like you and me
Like you and me”
His heart was full of love
love, love, love
love, love, love…
love was all around
Merry Christmas, friends.