December 8, 2014

Perfect imperfection

The holiday season is upon us all once again. 

In our house, the tree is up, the lights adorn our front porch, our Elf on the Shelf is providing daily delight (YES, I said DELIGHT… haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate… thank you Taylor Swift), gift purchases are well under way and various Christmas parties are filling up the calendar.

It’s not an easy time for everyone, let’s admit that. 

Mostly, it's because life doesn't stop just because Christmas rolls around, much as we may like it to. 

Krinkle, our Elf on the Shelf. Animal lover, or
 is this bear his captive?!
In the last few months, my wife has been wildly overworked, my daughter basically cut off the top of one of her fingers—thankfully, it was successfully reattached and she’s recovering well—, my son is navigating the social adjustments that come with a grade one class, and I myself am recovering from a minor yet invasive and intensely painful surgery.

Outside of our house, it goes on, too. One of my colleagues badly injured her foot a few weeks ago and will spend the holidays trying to heal as best she can, faced only with the likely prospects of surgery ahead (turns out having your foot run over isn't the comedy show that movies would suggest).

Closer to home, I know my brother is probably feeling a bit of the blues as we inch closer to Christmas. There is very little of our family left in Kamloops now, and we grew up in a house that regularly gathered 18 people on average. Even my brothers' parents’ in law are escaping Kamloops this year, so they won’t even have his wife’s folks around. A quiet Christmas is a strange prospect for him.

Still close to home, my best friend lost his mother to cancer in the last few weeks. He, his siblings and their father are staring down the barrel of their first Christmas without a cornerstone of their family to share in the holidays. The progression of the cancer in past weeks was so rapid that the plans went from travelling abroad for a last Christmas, to ‘maybe we can make it to Christmas’, to ‘Christmas will be a miracle’, to having already had to memorialize her loss.

Point is, there are undercurrents to Christmas that don’t mirror the happy reflections we see in store windows. Loneliness, displacement and loss are only amplified during the Christmas season.
Look! Even Vancouver can get some Christmassy
frost... in the shadow... on an otherwise sunny beach... 

When I think about The Reason for the Season, I have to admit… some of this chaos feels... familiar....maybe even makes sense. The Christmas Story isn't exactly all sugarplums and eggnog, y'know? Was Mary feeling delight and goodwill toward mankind, faced only with the displacement and discomfort of having a baby in a dirty donkey stall?

Uh, I expect not.

It’s not the birth story we would want for ourselves, to be sure, but its an accurate reflection of how our lives--even during a blessed event--can be a bit cray-cray (as the kids say).

Here we have a holiday founded on the very idea that life throws major curveballs.  But it’s in that perfect imperfection that I think the true holiday spirit belongs. We all lead busy lives, and in doing so, we walk down paths it isolation, injury, and illness at times. And sometimes, those days happen to be around Christmas.

We can still find beauty if we care to look for it. 

If you are in a position to dread Christmas a bit this year, I hope you find a way to let some of the happiness of the season in. Succumb to the lights, the music, the Spirit if so moved, and know that there are others (people like me), thinking of you, feeling a bit of your pain, but despite it all, hoping you have a Very. Merry. Christmas

Perhaps the Chase Family Video Christmas Card, below, can help spread a little merry? ENJOY! NO Bah-humbugging! Also, though our house delights in the elf on the shelf, this video is free of such items, if that is any incentive to any of you. 

As for me: Kate and I will, for the first time EVER, be having Christmas morning in our own house; just the immediate family. I am SO looking forward to it. 

Whatever your plans are, I hope you find a way to enjoy the holidays, too. 

Merry Christmas, y'all!