Thursday, November 21, 2013

No More Perfect Holidays (HAH Blog Hop)

Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want, 1943

Thanksgiving is exactly one week away. Hands down, it was my absolute favorite holiday asa kid. That's not a big surprise considering my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins usually gathered around a cake to celebrate my birthday each year on this national holiday. (I might also possibly teach my children that the reason our nation celebrates a day of giving thanks is because I was born.) Maybe it is because this one day each year I could count on my tongue savoring the flavor of sweet potatoes topped with melted marshmallows and butter. Most likely, however, it was the fact that I was surrounded by loved ones, young and old, to offer thanks for the abundance of blessings in our lives.

These days, with Christmas music filling retail stores long before trick-or-treating ever occurs, it's difficult to focus just on a day designated for counting blessings. Growing up, my dad was insistent that EVERYTHING Christmas waited until our short drive home from my grandparents. In a way, I'm grateful he did. Even the holiday television specials were a treat because we only watched them once a year. All of that said, I now have trouble decideing if I'm irritated or elated when Christmas music flows from the mouths of my babes to my ears... in July.

NEVER did I ever envision the holidays as they are now. For some reason, this Norman Rockwell favorite encapsulates my ideal holiday. Maybe it does for most of the world and that is why it is so famous. Thanksgiving and Christmas, in my opinion, should be a time for great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to gather and share the day together... with nowhere else to be. In my mind, the moment could last forever. Great conversation intermingled with playing games and cards... I'd even mix in singing and children putting on theatrical productions (because that is what I always did)... what could be better than that? My life was a picture of perfection as a child... maybe because my parents sheltered me... I don't know... I just know that I'd go back to those days in a moment. They are my ideal.

The year after I lost my paternal grandpa, we said goodbye to both my dad and father-in-law all in a matter of months before we said hello to our rambunctious youngest daughter. To this day, I stuff my confused emotions over the fact that she will never know her Grandpa and Papa. If the holidays are always lacking the patriarchs of the family, how can we ever hope to achieve the beauty portrayed in this picture? I know there is still much to appreciate in the life as she knows it. It's just not my ideal. We will never have the PERFECT Christmas I had always envisioned.

Irving Berlin's classic may find us dreaming of a White Christmas but NEVER can it fulfill my deepest longings. I suppose that is why the holidays still twist my emotions in a painful way. I'm pining over unrealistic expectations. There may not be a perfect holiday here on earth, but one day, we will have an ideal Christmas... eternity in Heaven.

I had my mom hunt down a copy of an album my dad like to listen to. (In particular, the January that his dad died.) Thanks, mom. Now I was able to find a recording of it on You Tube. The first 1:12 of the video, and than again at about 8:00 until the end, encapsulates what I'm trying to remember in these years since my own dad's passing. I just need to embrace the true meaning of each holiday.

I can picture my dad listening to the record and can't wait to be reunited again! We're going Home for Christmas... really Home for Christmas... going home to celebrate God's love!

(Today is the Third Thursday of the month. Time for the Hearts at Home Home Blog Hop! This month's topic: No More Perfect Holidays. Head over to Jill's blog to see what other women have to say.)