Monday, December 21, 2009

Prayers for Scrooges & Scroogettes

Yesterday, my sister-in-law who is living with me suddenly sighed and said, “You know, I’m starting to get depressed about Christmas.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas this year. On the one hand, it’s going to be a particularly difficult Christmas for a lot of people because times are particularly hard right now. On the other hand, even if things were better, some people just don’t find holidays as cheerful as other people do. I confess to being one of them. Each year I try to do something to make Christmas what it seems like it’s supposed to be and I’m not sure I ever succeed.

Last week a woman at Church said that she tried for years to pull her husband out of his Scrooginess and finally realized that his experience with Christmas had been very different from her own and he just had a hard time with Christmas. She said that instead of trying to get him to change she finally decided to just validate experience, accept that some people have a hard time with holidays, and just carry own and make her own Christmas for the rest of the family.

My family didn’t have much money for Christmas when I was groing up but that wasn’t the problem. I think it was that we weren’t a happy family and we didn’t have a lot of love in our home. My usual answer to that is that my mother suffered from mental illness and my dad grew up in an orphanage and didn’t really know a lot about families. That’s true, in part. But I expect there’s more to it, though I’m not going to try to figure it out. It’s past. Of the five children and one remaining parent in my family, my youngest brother seems to be the only one who has learned how to enjoy Christmas. I don’t know exactly how he did it, but he married a woman who perhaps knew and whether or not she did, the two of them determined to make Christmas special, for themselves and for their children. They celebrated Jesus’ birthday on Christmas Eve (complete with song and candles). For years they took the family to the Dickens festival in Salt Lake City until the festival was closed. They have 20+ years of pictures of the kids with Santa Claus.

But more than traditions, I believe there is love in their home. Despite the problems and challenges of raising five energetic boys (and at times loving them), my brother and his wife love each other and it shows. They love their children and try hard to help them learn to love the gospel and to be caring and responsible. I know one of the sons resents that having a large family seems to mean less money for things he wants but I’m hoping he’ll keep growing up and realize one day that his family isn’t so bad.

I’m too old to blame my lack of Christmas spirit on my parents and clearly I’m a slow learner if I’m still trying to get Christmas right. I think I’m on the right track though. But I wanted to stand up for a moment for the Scrooges and Scroogettes of the world, who, forever reason, haven’t yet felt the spirit of Christmas. It may be that something this year, a tiny gift, a few words of kindess, maybe touch their hearts and help lead them to understand Christmas. I know my friends have helped me in my journey this year. Thanks to them all and to the good shepherds who watch with love.

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