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saturday 12.23.2000
fugue: holiday joy

Most of us can't think of the month of December without also thinking of the holidays. It's that time of year again. What's your favorite holiday, Christmas, New Years or any other during the year? Do you adore the Christmas season with frantic shopping and tree decorating? Do you hate the season and wish it could be striped from the calendar? What do you like to do to celebrate? What are your memories of seasons past? It's all about holidays!

i think of christmas as a time of joy. a time for family. A time of traditions. and a time of celebration.

it hasn't always been so for me. i am a christian. and there is no worse time of the year to be walking away from your god. i have a family that is scattered, many of whom don't speak to me, or want to speak to me. and there is no worse time to be alone. before my first marriage, before my children, before i really understood the meaning of christmas in in the christian sense, the holidays were either a time of depression or a time to hope to receive this or that gift. i really didn't know any better. when i was a child, christmas was all about being together as a family and getting presents. my family fell into the materialistic commercialism before materialistic commercialism became synonymous with christmas or reared its ugly head before halloween was even over. they had walked away from faith long before i was even born because of circumstances brought about not by god but by man. for them, christmas was a habit that had no reason other than to get together with family and receive gifts.

but christmas is supposed to have meaning to those of faith, beyond the tinsel and the glitter and the gifts. for many years, even after i accepted christ, i couldn't find the meaning beyond the empty mouthing of the words "jesus is the reason for the season". so cliché. it wasn't until i had walked away from my faith that i found depth in the holiday celebrating his birth. suddenly i saw what it all meant, or could mean. i found the heart of it.

then came the children. and i wanted to take that heart that i had found and share it with someone in special meaningful ways. along came traditions, traditions bound in the symbolism of his birth. i wanted this season to have more meaning to my children than as a time to beg for another gift. over the last few years i actually despaired of them seeing anything more than the gifts they could get if they just asked the right person. almost perpetually poor, all i still heard was "mommy, i want this", "mom, can you get me that". and, if nothing else worked, "maybe I'll ask grandma." the tinsel, glitter and gifts seemed to be drowning out my message of faith. perhaps this should not have been a surprise. faith is a soft whisper in the roar of holiday gimme madness.

then came a wonderful thing. it started last year when my oldest child explained the symbolism behind our holiday traditions. not with empty words recited as if memorized from a text. but in her own words, highlighted by the very things that symbolized those traditions and beliefs. this year took a step forward from there. we are more broke than ever before, if that can be possible. there will be no gifts under the tree from us to the kids. i decided not to put the tree up, i felt it would just be too empty, too much of a reminder of what they weren't getting this year. but the children surprised me. they wanted the tree, knowing the only gift would be the message in the tree and its symbolic decoration. we were late in getting the tree up because everyone was sick, and they were aware of every day that it stayed packed away.

joy, family, traditions and celebration have been added to the christmas season over these last years. this year we added wonder. the wonder of a child's faith.

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