It happens every year, the Post-Christmas Blues. That time when the tree must finally be dragged to the curb, making you feel as if you are betraying nature; when the ornaments must find their home tucked back away in boxes for another year; when carols die down and the words, “happy holidays” and “merry Christmas” are no longer thrown about with smiles.
It is my least favorite time of the year!
During these days, even as this year’s celebration joins in the parade of holiday memories, I try to remember the many Christmases of the past and relish in the gifts that I’ve already received.
When I was a child, growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, our family had a Christmas tradition that was at once coveted and semi-miraculous: we flew across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. This didn’t earn me any friends at school.
However, our parents did not allow us to take this yearly vacation for granted. We had to work for it, earning our airfare working in the family business. This made the trip even more meaningful.
How can I forget the contrast between sub-zero weather in Anchorage, the darkness and the bleakness of winter, and the moment when, stepping off the plane in Honolulu, we felt the caress of trade winds and were assaulted by the scent of Plumaria blooming? It was indeed miraculous!
For us, Merry Christmas was Melekelikimaka! Christmas morning was a walk to Church and a gift of “Hawaiian sunshine”- the local pastor’s name for the pineapple juice handed out after every Mass. Instead of the large home my father had built to house six growing children, we shared a two-room apartment. We spent most of our time outside. My mother was a sun worshipper, my brothers surfing bums, and my sisters and I? We just sat on the beach pinching ourselves! Meanwhile my dad—who fit in like a local wherever we travelled—sported his Hawaiian shirt like an old pro and got such a tan folks thought he was from the islands.
I often wonder, among all the gifts God has given me, what role this time of celebrating Christmas in Hawaii has had in my life. Perhaps it is simply this: the experience of beauty! It was the contrast between the white cold beauty of Alaska and the brilliant colorful beauty of the islands that made me so aware of this.
Is not God the very source and author of all beauty? So often we think of God as one who is asking something of us. Yet every day God gives us beauty. It is there in the sun coming up over the snow-lit trees, there in the delicate face of our baby-in so many countless ways that we perhaps take for granted.
This Post-Christmas, as I put away the lovely things until next year, I want to remember to see God all year long in the beauty all around me and rejoice.
Question to Ponder
How many beautiful things can I count today, and rejoice in God’s goodness to me?
Lord, too many times I am hard headed and fail to see the beauty around me. Instead I focus on the negative. Open my eyes to You, to your goodness and beauty, so that I may rejoice at all times. (Rejoice always in the Lord. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4)
Copyright 2014 Julie Paavola