December 20 – Christmas: A burden of the heart?

by Teresa Schreiber Werth

Sometimes Christmas feels like a burden of the heart. After the turkey carcass has been boiled, the bones picked and the soup is gone, I find myself crawling sheepishly into December, dreading all that must be done, missing family and friends that are gone and those I love who live far away. I don’t want to be a scrooge but the feelings overwhelm me and I am trapped…until “the Spirit of Christmas” finds a crack in my armor seeps in and saves me from myself. This year was no different.

I was “humbugging” along right on schedule, having rationalized and accepted that there would be minimal holiday decorations at our house this year. No Christmas tree? OK with me. I wasn’t at all happy with myself but I recognized the situation as normal (for me) and seemingly hopeless.

I had gone out to perform my weekly volunteer duties at Reach Out Radio where I read national and international news on our local PBS station, for the blind and visually impaired. As I was driving down our street, almost home, I could see from two houses away, that the Christmas tree was up and fully lit, in our living room. Bless the man that married me! I didn’t ask why he’d done it or how he knew that I couldn’t but, when I saw our tree, all beautiful and bright, the shiver I felt must have been the Spirit of Christmas seeping in. Close to tears, I came in the house and stood there, amazed and thankful. I actually felt as if I had to decorate it right then, and we did. I asked my husband to hang the evergreen garland around the front door and he did even better, stringing it with Christmas lights.

He got up in the closet and handed me the holiday Folkstone figures I have enjoyed collecting. I went to work on the mantel, then the entryway, the hexagonal window. Retrieving my six little button trees from the attic, I placed one in every room. What had seemed impossible a short time before was suddenly exciting and satisfying. The process of decking the halls had fixed my spirit.

I don’t want to spoil the magic by dissecting it, but I can’t help notice that finding the Christmas spirit had nothing to do with buying or wrapping, malls or catalogs, lists or sales. It was about someone performing a simple act of love. I recognized it instantly.

Perhaps Christmas seems like a heavy burden because we long for the impossible–a holiday like the ones we cherish in our memory, Christmases when we were younger and more innocent, when times were simpler and merriment seemed more attainable. Maybe we set ourselves up for disappointment by failing to live in the present, to recognize all the blessings around us in this time and place. All I know is Christmas is coming and I am ready.

Teresa Werth writes because she must. Ever since kindergarten, she has written poems, stories, songs and plays. Writing and revising words give her great joy A retired communications professional, she celebrates life daily, keeps busy making memories.


5 responses to “December 20 – Christmas: A burden of the heart?

  1. Teresa,
    I find
    more and more
    and year
    to year, I become
    the same as you reported.
    Thank you for validating
    the feelings
    of wistfulness
    or the “lack of…”

  2. Teresa,

    I recognize myself in your story.

    Especially this time of year, I long for the days when “merriment seemed more attainable.” Adult lives, along with adult issues, make it much harder to laugh and feel joyful sometimes. Maybe the first step in making it easer, is recognizing it. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Excellent post, Teresa. I agree that the magic of Christmas has nothing to do with shopping or malls. I’m happy you discovered it!

  4. Thank you Teresa, definitely a great post. Like Nancilynn and Rhonda, and surely others, I identified immediately with your feelings. “Maybe we set ourselves up for disappointment by failing to live in the present, to recognize all the blessings around us in this time and place.” Those words certainly spoke to me! Merry Christmas, and thank you again for sharing!

  5. The Christmas spirit works best as a communal effort. You just needed that extra boost from another and then you pass it on. We so bogged down by the hustle bustle of it all that we forget the beauty of simplicity and just letting go of the stress.

    Journaling Woman at my memoir blog
    starting Saturday 12/17/2011 with a special giveaway!
    Wrote By Rote

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