Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Confessions of a Grinch

Epiphany usually brings feelings of relief, finally returning to my modus operandi of calm, predictable, economical and low-maintenance (re: dry, boring, and sterile) after the Christmas craze.

Confessions of a Grinch: I enjoy boxing Christmas back into the attic.
But I caught something unexpected this Christmas, and it wasn't the annual "seasonal allergies" that simmer through Advent and then explode offensively in wheezing, sneezing, and coughing just as the priest invites us to extend the Sign of Peace at midnight Mass.

"Peace be with you."
My immediate, extended, in-law, out-law, in-town, out-of-town family kept unapologetically showing up with this contagious condition, and I finally caught it by Christmas evening.

There were crazy creative stocking stuffers from my parents on Christmas Eve, individually wrapped so it took twice as long to reach the bottom of the stocking. (4 minutes for me and Wally, 10 minutes for Josh, and never for Joe, because he stopped when he found a construction trucks movie)

Then this dancing cop video showed up in my inbox on Christmas morning. 

Some random parishioner shared a passionate testimony at Mass about how he experienced Jesus year-round. At least I think that's what he talked about. I overheard some inspirational phrases while foiling Josh's plan to climb into the pew behind us. 

Stop cringing at my image editing skills, and consider this a patent.
We arrived at Libby's house to a spread of surprisingly-healthy comfort food, beautifully-wrapped gifts under the tree, and a herd of excited children, ready to start the procession that would hopefully get a porcelain baby Jesus to the nativity in one piece.

Christmas shook off the tedious and overwhelming quality I'd assigned it. The love of family expressed with every detail and gesture of the season revealed a new understanding for me of the Immortal becoming mortal, not for the sake of annual decorum or exasperating traditions, but just for the sake of love.

And then I remembered that we had e-mailed giftcards to the people whose names we drew for the Christmas gift exchange. And I felt kind of sad. I guess we could try again next year.

But then I remembered that there are TWELVE days of Christmas, and this was only Day One. We put together Epiphany gifts of cookies, cocoa, and coffee as post-scripts to our uninspiring e-cards, and mailed them USPS in wrapping paper. (They may have been intercepted by a grinch postal worker who refuses to ship anything but brown parcels, but we hope not.)

This year, maybe for the first time, maybe just for the first time in a long time, I caught the Christmas spirit.

And my heartstrings pulled when Joe came running out of his bedroom on the morning after the wisemen finally visited Jesus, to find the Christmas season transformed back into a boring, old living room.

But what happened to the Christmas train, Mama?

Next year, Joe, next year!

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