Chills in the air that only hot showers, long treadmill runs, and coffee can defrost, are more than I care to experience this winter. Of course, I shouldn’t complain. I live in East Tennessee, and our cold seasons would be considered balmy tropical fronts compared to Northern climates. Still, the older I get, and the more crotchety my bones grow, the less tolerance I muster in the season of bluster.
After 12 hours of Christmas shopping over the past weekend, and 200 Christmas cards mailed in the last few days, I am feeling a little more Grinch and a little less Tiny Tim than normal. I’ve almost given up my spirit of giving. My patience has become impatient, and Ethan’s elf-on-the-shelf has lost her creativity. In fact, she seems to have forgotten for several nights, that she’s supposed to travel up to Santa and return to our home in a new spot each morning for Ethan’s finding pleasure.
But the momentum of this Christmas adventure began with ambitious intentions. My mom and my mamaw were both Christmas nuts. I don’t mean the kind you eat or the kind found in holiday fruitcakes. They were fruitcakes, but that’s what made Christmas fun. Somehow, without both of them here to motivate me into frosty-rudolph celebration, I felt even more determined to do everything they did for the holidays; to make sure that my children had the same experiences I had as an excited and enthusiastic child. So now with 6 days left to go before Christmas, I am severely and sadly burned out. My twinkle has lots its sparkle, and my spritely spirit has lost its luster. But my favorite Christmas memory keeps me plugging along like the reindeer guiding Santa Claus’s sleigh, and I know that I can’t lose sight with that blinding glow of Rudolph’s red.
Many many years ago, my parents and I took a trip, as we traditionally did, up North to visit my grandparents. On our journey, we encountered a blizzard like I had never seen. I remember that the world was white, even though the night was dark. I couldn’t see my mittens or my boots for the creamy drifts that buried my seven-year-old self. The interstate closed, and we were forced to spend Christmas eve in a tiny little hotel room.
All I could think about was how would Santa ever find me there. My determined father hung one of his tube socks, white with two red stripes, from a shelf in our room. I left a couple of twinkies, and a cup of water, complete with a hand-written letter telling Santa exactly what I wanted. I remember lying there, waiting for sleep to carry me away, and wondering if this magical man would know that we were stranded, and that this was the best I could do.
To my surprise, when I awakened the next morning, I found every single gift I had asked for, along with a stuffed tube sock still hanging with bulging candy, oranges, and hairbows. I was ecstatic. Although we had no tree in that cold dark room, the spirit of Christmas filled the air, and overflowed into my little doubtful heart in a way that still moves me to this day. I still have no idea how they pulled it off, but it doesn’t matter. They did pull it off, and my faith in Christmas was restored.
My wish this Christmas is that my childrens’ faith is restored the same as mine was so long ago; that they understand that, while obstacles can and will try and crush our faith, miracles can and do happen. After a year of losing ‘grandma’, and missing out on summer travels and fun, their spirit of Christmas carries me through just as my parents’ spirit did on that stranded Christmas morning, and it was restored entirely in that crazy eighties tube sock.