I listened to a good podcast earlier this week, a Podcast called "Homemakers By Choice". The title of this episode was called, "Feelings After Christmas". I have to admit even though my family stretches out Christmas to Epiphany, it felt like it went by too fast and I had a sadness in taking the tree down and putting the decorations away. There is a certain amount of "letdown" the day after Christmas. The point of the podcaster was the focus of our Christmas and focusing on that little baby Jesus for more than a day.
Earlier this week, I had one of those uncomfortable moments in the car with my son- one of those moments that I had anticipated would happen more in his teenage years, than at the age of three. I'm not sure exactly how it came up on our commute home. We had about an hour in the car and I normally like to keep the conversation light and talk about the number of airplanes we see, or boats in the river, or other things like that. He blurted out, "Jesus isn't my friend." I tried not to slam on the brakes, or go into immediate crisis mode that my three year old was battling with atheism.
Whoa. I think I may have said that. I then tried to go into everything my husband and I taught him, "Jesus loves you, he cares for you, etc." Nope. He was certain. Jesus was not his friend. I questioned further. "He doesn't like that I got so many presents at Christmas. He told me I should give some presents away." I tried to decipher how he had this conversation with Jesus. Apparently he talked with Him before Christmas, in our house. I tried not to get wrapped up in the details. My son then told me that the "big boy baseball mitt" he had for asked for (and gotten) from Santa should be given away to another boy.
Apparently the giving tree at Church had left an impression on him, and I'm not sure exactly how, but he thought he had gotten too many things for Christmas and that Jesus was disappointed in him and he should give more to others. I treaded lightly, but was impressed by his thinking. He went on to say if Jesus loved him, "Mommy would sleep in my room at night." I went on to tell him that Jesus loved him and that is why Mommy would NOT sleep in his room overnight. Jesus loved him so much, he wanted him to be safe and grow into a big, strong, courageous man, which means sleeping in your room with Jesus looking on. That's about where that conversation stopped.
This weekend, my husband and I went on a great date to a theater to see a comedian. The theater was part of a new entertainment complex that was built in our area, everyone was dressed up fancy and there were a lot of wonderful new restaurants and sparkly decorations and glamour and glitter that comes from a brand new mega-complex. We had a great time, and it was a lot of fun, but people weren't "joyful". They were happy and having fun- but I did not find joy.
The juxtaposition to that trip was the next day when we went as a group, Lay Dominicans and their spouses (and my 3 year old) to a Hospice House. We came bringing some goodies and someone brought music and we took all of our 3 year old's musical instruments and dispersed it throughout the crowd. We sang several Christmas Carols, ending with "We Three Kings" as it was Epiphany Sunday. Those people were joyful.
But most of all was the older woman who we went down to where she was, bedridden. Initially, I couldn't tell if she was happy or annoyed by our presence, but when my son went over to her and shook her hand, I could tell she was smiling and watching her try to belt out, "Silent Night" with us showed me such joy. Joy that doesn't come from sparkles, glitter and Christmas decorations. Joy that comes from knowing our Savior Jesus Christ was born for us from Mary on that Holy Night.
That night, my son said singing at that House was his favorite part of that day and that was a fitting end. I no longer felt "cheated" out of Christmas. That was the Joy I had been looking for.