Have you noticed that Christmas movies almost always have a happy ending. And so they should, for the story that began on the first Christmas Day is one of ultimate joy. However, real life situations are seldom resolved in the time it takes to read a 200 page novel, or watch a 2 hour movie. For many, Christmas is a sad time of year in which loss is marked and difficulties are augmented. The glowing joy that we are led to believe are the norm throughout this season tend to come in often short-lived bursts, or not at all.
During the years we lived in Ecuador I missed my family fiercely. The distance was felt most keenly during Christmas when I knew that family gatherings were occurring without me. I imagined them all together, eating turkey, playing games, talking - together. And us, far away, just five.
A custom I developed when the children were very small helped me to cope. After the stockings were opened in a tumbled heap on our bed, everyone headed to their rooms to dress before breakfast, the gifts, and the dinner, and I took a few moments for myself. I thought of my family far away, I indulged in a few tears, and then, I moved into my day, choosing to be joyful in the moment, with the family God had given me.
We always had a wonderful time together. Christmas mornings we opened our stockings together in our bed, then moved on through the day, always with friends that became family. A lovely glow surrounds the memory of those Christmas celebrations.
Life is not perfect. For anyone. Some have more to bear than others. But this Christmas, I am, once again, choosing joy in the small and large gifts that come to me every day.