Clement Moore had very limited vision. In his poetic holiday tribute, all attention is focused on "The Night Before Christmas," as if that limited time period could encompass all the emotions of the holiday. But, Christmas is so very much more.
For folks such as me, Christmas shopping still has to be done. That's a horrifying thought to those intrepid shoppers who began purchasing gifts last year on December 26th during all the post-holiday sales. They then continued monitoring sales throughout the year, and by the time that Black Friday arrived on the day after Thanksgiving, they already had all of their gifts purchased, wrapped, and hidden away from prying eyes.
While they have completed their Christmas preparations, there is another group that will still be searching in picked-over racks and second chance sale bins till the stores close on December 24th. Their gifts may still bear price tags, and they may or may not be wrapped; but, they will be under the tree on Christmas day!
During this week before Christmas, there are also plans being finalized for house guests, trying to determine who will sleep where, how many extra tables need to be placed in available corners, deciding what time meals and family activities will begin; and, who needs to be kept as far away from the eggnog as possible.
For those who will be traveling, the desperate perusal of weather and airline sites becomes an activity as natural as breathing. What will the temperature be, is there moisture, will it affect planes or roads? Lots of questions for the travelers as they head across the county, the state or the nation to be with their loved ones for Christmas. Of course, there are also the details about the car (oil topped off, gas tank full, antifreeze added, tires fully inflated) that guarantee safe arrival.
If decorations haven't already been finished, then there is a desperate final attempt to put up garlands, string lights, hang stockings and pull all the rest out of storage for use if needed. Those special holiday serving dishes are also brought out of storage, given a good washing and put into the cupboard for use on Christmas eve and Christmas day. A search is made through the cabinets to find all the Christmas music and to get it put out by the stereo, ready at a moment's notice to be placed into play, lifting the mood and setting the tone for all activities.
As Christmas cards land in the mailbox, there are the frantic replies to those who weren't on the original list of recipients. There are the searches for stocking stuffers to guarantee that all children (of all ages) will have an appropriate treat, or sticks and lumps of coal if that is deserved.
The final few days involve church services, gift wrapping, advance meal preparation, verification of schedules and final tidying up of all common areas. By the time December 24 arrives, most people have worked themselves into such a lather that it takes several hours of calm relaxation to put themselves into a proper reflective mood for Christmas day.
And then, finally, it is Christmas!
Gifts are shared, food is eaten, hugs are exchanged. Prayers of thanks and entreaties for the coming year are made. There are moments of stress and moments of great joy, all mingled together.
But, somewhere along the way, all of us have the realization that this is Christmas. A celebration of the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. That gets lost over and over again during the wild plans for a perfect holiday; but, it is always there if we pause just long enough to let it in.
This Christmas, find your time to pause to reflect. Give yourself the gift of knowing why we celebrate and why we put ourselves through the whole circus that it can become.
As another wonderful English author said through his character, Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone!"
It’s all just my opinion.