Celebrations are Biblical, people. They really are! Look at the feasts that God already ordained, yes, ordained, for His people to celebrate. Some of them are more somber, but all of them involve seeking a deeper relationship with God unlike the traditional American holidays. these are what i have been transitioning too, with many believers, and we are all learning how to celebrate these “feasts” because some of them don’t come with a lot of instructions. Blow a shofar? Okay. then what. We’re getting better. Some do them better than others. But we do have the Word if we…go a little crazy here and there. Makes for great debates.
But alas, there are people that celebrate the non Biblical holidays so well, that you wonder, “where did i go wrong? This person is demonstrating a more Christ like attitude than me. By Christ like, i mean they are drawing the family together (isn’t that good?), getting to know family members by asking them questions that bring out their needs and wants, (Isn’t it Christ like to share what you have in a liberal way?), make a festive home environment by transforming the home with fun lights and greenery (is there some kind of divine spark of creativity here?) , place small figures around the house that represent the scene of Christ’s birth that teach children the “true meaning of Christmas (insert select spiritual elements)?
Alas, this is my beloved mother, who WILL NOT give up Christmas or Easter (as it is currently celebrated by many Americans).
I live with her, so everything that i don’t do is contrasted with all the things she does do…and she does Christmas in a big way.
Let’s start with the cookies…hmmm…8 boxes of all varieties that she baked until she could bake no more…and she was sick. Very sick. But cookies had to be made.
Presents…i will not reveal what her budget was for this “holy” extravaganza, but one gift card was at least $75…and she has…hmmm…nine grandchildren (and their spouses) and a gazillion greats? Plus the three adult children.
I am Scrooge. Bah! Humbug. (but i must confess…i do like to shop. I am woman.)
But, trying to exit Christmas is somewhat a tactical maneuver. Because my mother can’t drive, i can’t really totally opt out. and i am the oldest child…and i live with her. Sigh. But, there are things about this whole experience, every year, that i tried to glean from it…since she does Christmas “so well”.
I’ve identified two things.
1)She brings the WHOLE family together. She really does. She creates strong incentives for family to come, by making sweets, having lots of food and gifts…things that make for happy gatherings. She makes sure they know she is shopping for them on Amazon.com. And she gets organized lists from those who will receive from her GREAT generosity. She wants to do this efficiently and properly (I don’t know where she learned this…the Great How to do Christmas Right Book). I suppose she wants to make this simple, but it’s not,.
End result: Family talks. Family laughs. Children play. Great photo ops. And, it’s a lot nicer since i persuaded her to make this pre-Christmas shindiggety dig, a week prior to Christmas because it was too stressful for families with children. She prepared everything, then people came and only stayed an hour or so, and then the mad rush to get huge garbage bags with gifts to the right families. “Grandma, I think I got so and so’s gift. Did you mean to get me a chainsaw?”
She was actually disappointed when we did change the time and date. But now she likes it. She can, rest…sorta, on Christmas eve. But up to the time of the shindiggety dig, she buys beer and mega amounts of soda pop, she prepares a feast for an army, spicy wienies, meatballs, spinach dip, deli meat, fried chicken tenders, stuffed eggs, nuts, caramel pecans (not just ordinary pecans) and veggies appetizers, like stuffed mushrooms and little baguettes with veggie toppings. Plus the cookies. tons and tons of sugar wrapped in delightful packages. “Did i forget something?” she asks.
“Have the packages been wrapped?” (these words cause me to tremble. I hate wrapping packages…so i enlist my grandaughter…we bond)
I made a video of my mom with “mad scientist” music behind her and panned across the counter where she has all her ingredients, ending up with her looking ominously at the camera phone as she blends something with a mixer.
2) The second requirement is for her to ask people what they want for Christmas…and she expects a response. Seriously, you better answer this woman back or she will be telling me how she “never got an answer from so and so and now we have to get gift cards.” she knows how to use technology to communicate with everyone, but she doesn’t always get the satisfactory, “I would like this, grandma=”
What’s the value in this? She actually gets to know them a little better. It is kind of personal..She will buy them anything. Seriously. X boxes, games with names with scary titles that promote war and violence. It doesn’t really matter to her, if they are dolls that look like ghouls or ugly, green monster toys that have blades or bloody teeth, because that is the way she gets to know them and doesn’t judge them. They love her for that. They REALLY do. and she doesn’t mind that they want big things. She’s pleased to be able to help.
So i thought, “Well, what do I have to offer them in place of that.
Nothing. I have failed as a human being.
Alas…she does all of this out of a fierce love for her family. One day, her generation will pass away, and her wild Christmas ways will pass away with that. What will this generation remember about her? She cared deeply about everyone in her family. She was genuinely interested in them. She was generous. very generous. She laughed and enjoyed the babies and children most of all, and the grown ups that used to be the children running around in her house. She used her home to build her family and she had a very healthy attitude toward differences, whether religious or political. She learned to “unlike” things on Facebook so they knew where she stood on issues but she wouldn’t argue with them. She is the most accepting person you’ll ever meet.
So how do i reconcile the perfect Christmas mother/grandmother with the kind of person I am. I am a Hebraic minded woman, marking my calendar as i have learned over years to adjust my calendar to God’s. I feel its more valuable to sit down and worship for an hour or two with my guitar, and study the word, pray in my own war room, and fascinate myself with the wonders of the Hebrew language.
I’ve decided that it’s okay that I am different from her. I’ve been different from birth. It’s her fault. She gave birth to me! And one day, I will be a matriarch too…just like her.
I was sitting at the table one day, and i had a vision…right there, while my mom was puttering around the kitchen. In the vision, my mother was dying, and she was telling me, in a quite insistent way, that i needed to hold everything together. In the vision, i saw Jesus standing behind me and my mother saw Him. He wasn’t saying anything, but without words, He was speaking to her. “It’s okay. I’ve got a plan for her. I’m with her. She has a different destiny. be at peace, daughter.>” I shared this vision with her.
She’s a fighter, my mother. she wanted to make sure…the family stayed together and that everything was going to be okay.
What kind of matriarch will i be? I’ll be like her…i will fiercely love my family in a different way. But, I’ll be uniquely who Jesus qualifies me to be…I’ll learn from her how to listen, and how to reach outside myself and try not to judge…because people grow up and they change. I’ll learn to be as generous as I can, like her…I’ll look for ways to gather folks together…(is there a place for happiness at a family reunion?) . I’ll pray for grace to realize that when she’s gone, there will be a big hole in my heart…and I’ll pray for grace to move forward…as the “new matriarch”, and i won’t look back.