I can remember as a child the excitement I felt during Advent waiting for Christmas to arrive. The smell of the cookies baking was intoxicating and the presents being wrapped while the house was being decorated, grew my anticipation until I thought I would burst. I would lay under the tree staring up at the lights and my reflection in the Christmas balls with Advent aching in my heart.
As I daydreamed in full wonder about the magic of the Season and what it would bring me. I have nothing but fond memories of Christmas as a child. My adopted son has a very different memory of Christmas, and he reminds me of others like himself that ache in a different way.
Children who are separated from their families placed in a stranger’s home, some welcoming some not. Those with families struggling with addiction, mental illness, physical illness, or poverty. Other families who are sad over battling parents divorcing or the death of a loved one. My son can recall in detail the time he was homeless and living in a tunnel at a park in freezing temperatures. He was relieved when he was brought to a homeless shelter only to be thrown outside without a coat so they could clean. I can see the ache in his glazed eyes as he tells me it was the longest wait of his life. He was shivering so much he thought he would freeze on the spot.
Christmas holds different memories for each of us and as much as I would love to be able to save and heal the world a wise old man once told me there is only one savior and his name isn’t DAWN! Words I will never soon forget. As I age, I am reminded of how I am no longer waiting in anticipation like a child. I am the one doing the baking, shopping, wrapping, planning, and decorating, and I can get so caught up in the doing I forget to experience childlike joy. When I look at what my son has reminded me, of those less fortunate than me, I force myself to slow down and appreciate all that I have at this very moment. I won’t lay down under my tree because I may not be able to get up but, I will stare at my tree and recall the emotions of my inner child and thank God for all of my treasures and share what I can with others.