Janet Sheridan: Grant us the grace
December 12, 2013
After I told my mother I didn't like the dress she made me for Christmas because it was corduroy, not velveteen, she turned and left the room without speaking. Years later, she told me she resisted the urge to respond with anger because she knew I'd use any reprimand as an excuse to resent her and forget my own rudeness.
Dad's union was on strike, and money was tight — something I usually understood and accepted, but I was focused on my wish to impress the boy who'd invited me to a New Year's dance in Provo and my envy of the fashionable red velveteen dress Santa had delivered to my best friend.
I saw my mother's disappointment and hurt before she turned away, but mired in my misery, I didn't try to make things right. Later, after sulking in my room, I came to my senses, found her folding laundry, and choked out, "I'm sorry."
"So am I," she said. "I'm not sorry that I can't give you everything you want, because that isn't how life is, but I am sorry that you can't see all that you have."
I remembered Mom's statement a few weeks ago when I heard a television commentator say that rather than pushing Thanksgiving aside in our rush to get a head start on Christmas, we should savor the simplicity of the gentle November holiday and call on its spirit of gratitude throughout the coming season.
So this year, during the busy buildup to Christmas, I'm going to remind myself to notice simple pleasures and open myself to them, to remember all that I have.
I invite you to join me.
We'll enjoy the red-cheeked exuberance of small children as they happy-dance in store aisles and gaze in round-eyed wonder at Christmas trees filled with luminous lights. We'll smile at how angelic our young ones look as they perform in holiday concerts, how happy they seem as they race home from school with decorations and cards they created and how concerned they appear as they debate the number of cookies to leave for Santa.
We'll plan an early evening stroll through the Festival of Trees at the courthouse, where we'll chat with friends, neighbors and strangers as we admire the variety of trees created by Craig's civic organizations, nonprofits and businesses. Some will fill our eyes with beauty, and others will make us laugh. Several will impress us with their cleverness, and all will demonstrate the fellowship and commitment to community found in Craig.
We'll sing carols with messages and melodies that have resonated through the ages, concentrating until their hopeful words envelop us and carry us back to the time when we sang "Silent Night" with all the belief and love of our young hearts.
We'll read traditional Christmas stories to ourselves and others and respond to their well-known lines: Santa's exclamation as he drove out of sight, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night," Tiny Tim's "God bless us, everyone!" and the simple but compelling words of the Bible, "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
If Christmas Eve brings us a calm night when the trees are wrapped in frosty lace, the snow sparkles with frozen crystals and every star in the heavens is visible, we'll take the time to bundle up and walk outdoors to search for the Star of the East and listen as the glory of the night whispers of all our blessings.
My wish is that all of us will be granted the grace to enjoy the Christmas we have, not the one we think others are having or the one we hoped to have, the grace to find beauty in the simple, the grace to understand that most perfect days are filled with small, quiet wonders.
Janet also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.