Through a child’s eyes
I am not sure if you know anyone like this, but I know a few people who do not see this time of year as a personally joyous one. I am privy to the fact that Christmas is not a time that everyone looks forward to or savors and to people like myself, this comes as a great sadness. For reasons not known to me, they see it as a time that is thrust on them each year, just trying to ‘ride it out’ until the garbage cans are full of crumpled wrapping paper and the tree is left on the curb to be picked up by a local Boy Scout troop. Perhaps if they try to see the holiday in a simpler light, they might be able to get back in touch with the beauty and spirit of the day.
I see Christmas as a time of hope because it is the one time of year we can try to look through a child’s eyes.. As each Christmas approaches, I have come to realize that the music, the tree, the shopping, the food, and the family and friends gathering gives us a brief collective sense of purpose. But in reality, it’s more about the anticipation of the day than the day itself. It’s remembering how as children we would count down to the day as we ‘grouped’ the gifts under the tree with our names on the tags, tried to see through the wrapping paper, and shook them to guess whether they were toys or (boring) clothes.
It was smelling our mom’s cooking and baking as she prepared her Christmas treats — food we ate only a few times a year or only at Christmas time. It was taking down the boxes full of tree decorations and haphazardly placing ornaments on the sometimes delicate branches, hoping we didn’t hear our feet crunch tiny shards of colored glass on the floor by the time we finished. It was watching my mom lovingly write sentiments on each Christmas card, as if the person she was writing to was the only one receiving a card that year. And it was the impatience with which we begged our parents to get up earlier so that we could rip through the brightly wrapped presents. (My dad had to give his royal edict before a single gift could be violated).
As a child, each time I saw a Nativity scene, I thought of how the people and animals who visited the stable all seemed so well behaved, since they stood there so still and adoringly in each creche depiction I came across. The Christ child represented the innocence of youth and the renewed hope of a weary world — one still revisited by the lyrics in Christmas music — still some of the most beautiful music ever written. I am always sad when we put that music away after the holiday and I no longer hear it as I shop. But I know that as an adult it will arrive even more quickly each year.
For a child, however, the time between Christmases feels like centuries. Do you remember that feeling? So I suppose how we view Christmas can become that upon which we individually choose to focus. The ‘chores’ of the day are accomplished with the anticipation of smiles, glad hearts and memories still in the making.
I wish you and those you love the merriest of Christmases and I look forward to the new year with renewed hope. To be sure, one of my hopes is that I never lose that childlike wonder about what each new day, month and year will bring, as they are indeed the gifts given to us with no holiday name attached.