I thought I would use December to try a few Christmas stories. Some are true. Some are a figment of my imagination. Most fall in between, in that place that is fictional memoir.
The room looked so empty, sparse. Gone was the large tree covered in ornaments. There were no stockings hanging from the mantle. There was no mantle. The room was silent. No “It’s a Wonderful Life” playing on the tv. No tv.
Christmas was different this year. The trappings of the season stripped from them when they lost their home and moved into their minivan. Everything but the essentials donated to the Salvation Army because there was no room in the minivan for decorations.
Sara thought about her angel tree topper. She wondered where it sat this year. She tried to picture the family that would be eating off of her Christmas dishes tomorrow. She thought about the card holder that used to fill with friend’s pictures and beautiful gold trimmed Christmas cards. There were none this year. They had not had an address until yesterday.
But now they did.
Sara looked around the small living room of their one bedroom apartment and she was thankful.
Thankful for the roof over their heads.
Thankful for the lock on the front door.
Thankful for the food waiting to be cooked the next day.
Thankful for the job she was starting after the new year.
Thankful for a place to have a room for the kids to sleep.
Thankful too that the kids were still too young to know what was happening, just happy to be with mommy and daddy.
She was so very thankful.
Mostly because this past year had shown her what mattered. It had freed her from the artifice of the holiday season and shown her Christmas - Christ’s story.
This year, the nativity was made by her oldest in Sunday school. A picture she had colored, the star sparkling with glitter.
This year, instead of getting presents, they had decided to give presents to Jesus. Signing up for blanket making with the mom’s group at church and serving Christmas Eve dinner at the shelter they had once called home.
The kids had understood. It is Jesus’ birthday after all.
Sara had enjoyed the quiet of the season, with no presents to buy and no cards to address. No parties to attend. She did miss the small moments she had once enjoyed. Decorating the Christmas tree together. The cookie exchange with the play group.
But they had new traditions now. Walking the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. Singing Christmas carols with the congregation. Making a birthday cake for baby Jesus.
Yes, as Sara looked around the empty living room, she was thankful.