It’s not even December 1st yet and already Christmas is in the air. It is in the stores, houses don lights, and Christmas Carols are on the radio. In the past, the idea of starting the celebration before the Halloween candy is all eaten bothered me, but this year seems different somehow. I, too, am getting caught up in the spirit. I, too, have turned on the TV and watched back to back Hallmark Christmas movies. What joy they bring! The predictable plot, the fake snow, the twinkling lights that keep twinkling. The unrealistic way that things just seem to turn out exactly as we want. Always a happy ending. That isn’t real life, or is it?
I have just had 5 incredible days with family. It started with a wonderful Wednesday evening Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom’s. All 31 of us and no one had to sit at the Kids’ Table as we rearranged furniture so that the table could wind its’ way through the dining room and on into the living room. Thursday brought another turkey with all the trimmings with my husband’s side of the family. The traditional tablecloth was signed by all present and games brought laughter to all! Friday was spend hauling boxes of tinsel and holly and baubles and lights from the basement as the decorating began. Saturday saw flour, sugar and colorful icing in my kitchen and dining room as almost 20 people decorated cookies with Christmas music playing in the background. Sunday dawned and we headed to church, Sunday school, and Children’s Christmas Pageant practice. (I can’t wait to show others what the kids are working on.) However, in Sunday School, we discussed how our expectations cannot be realized when we compare our lives to a Hallmark movie. Many people get disappointed when they try to create the perfect Christmas. Of course, since I was in church, I know the true reason for the season, and it is Jesus and not a Hallmark movie plot, but still….! I want a happy ending and all the glitter and sparkle along the way.
OK, so Sunday afternoon, I hurry home to rush to get Kay dressed for Chicora’s Light Up Night. She will be singing a solo. The curling iron is plugged in and I need to run Paul to the church to dress for his part in the live nativity. The sun was shining and as I drove through my small town, I saw some people hanging Christmas lights and others chatting on the sidewalks. Are you kidding me? This looks just like a Hallmark Christmas movie! What a pretty day for November. My daughter is visiting from Denver and she gets to attend the light up night festivities with us. We arrive to find the street blocked off and chairs filling the Post Office parking lot. Local entertainers sing songs and the high school cheerleaders do a cheer. Santa arrives and hears all the children’s wishes. Hot Cocoa is served and over sized cardboard gingerbread houses occupy the center of the street showing off the creativity of our townspeople. The live nativity is in the furniture store’s parking lot and the Legion houses the photos of our community’s heros who served and are still serving our country. After snacking on food served by the high school volley ball team, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Rotary, we head to the front lawn of the Moose Lodge for the tree lighting. First, though, lanterns are lit in honor of our military, our policemen and one for the hope of peace in our community and around the world. The local priest leads us in singing O Come, O Come Emanuel and then the tree is lit to cheers and hardy pats on the back. The committee that planned this has outdone themselves again. It all looks like a Hallmark movie to me. My husband and I tease and look up into the sky to see if the big, white flakes will start falling and land perfectly on our hats and shoulders to complete this scene before the credits start rolling to signal the end.
This morning, I sit in my home….the boxes marked “Christmas” are only half unpacked with their contents spread on the floor and table, some need a bit spruced up before they can be called decorations. The smell of cookies baking is gone but the bits of dough and the icing that has turned to glue is still on my counter. The scarves and earmuffs that looked so festive last night do just not look the same strewn across the couch and the ceiling in the kitchen is leaking and dripping into my sink from the bathroom above. I’m thinking it might be time for a commercial break. I didn’t see this scene in the movie where the lead’s name was Holly or Noelle. Wait. This isn’t a Hallmark movie?! Nope. It isn’t. But with my Christmas colored glasses on, last night it looked pretty close.
Christmas isn’t always an easy holiday and many times it brings up painful memories and even sweet memories that now cause pain because people we love are the memories. Even this Christmas could be a difficult one for me. We never know. Life doesn’t give us any guarantees, but yesterday’s community event wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t a scene from a movie. It was real.
Yesterday in church we lit the first candle on the Advent wreath. The candle of hope. It is my hope that you will have some Hallmark Movie moments this season and that you, too, will recognize that they are real.