I grew up celebrating Christmas #1 on Christmas Eve. When I was young, one of my grandmothers would drive over and then she, with my parents and I, would tromp down to my other grandmother’s house where my uncle also lived. We’d eat applesauce cake and grapes and open presents. Christmas #2 happened after that, when my mom and Dad and grandmother and I drove back home to open our own presents and our stockings, and to tell the Christmas story and enjoy my mom’s buffet. And a week later came Christmas #3, when my mother’s extended family came to spend a weekend together, share a big meal, and play Secret Santa.
These days I still have multiple Christmases. My husband and I spend Christmas #1 with my parents a few days before the holiday, Christmas #2 with each other (and, this year, a giant stack of moving boxes and an impending house closing), and Christmas #3 with his parents.
What I’m saying is that there is no one “right way” to do Christmas. Some people, like me, have three or four Christmases in a matter of weeks, all different and all unique. Some people have one big gargantuan family Christmas where every relative from near and far descends on a single dwelling. Some couples spend Christmases with just each other.
For some this year, Christmas might be especially difficult. There are those who have lost loved ones, and are either celebrating the day in an unfamiliar way–or have decided not to celebrate at all. There are college students who couldn’t make it home and are spending Christmas watching Netflix and eating pizza. There are folks who for some reason or another are estranged from their families and so form Christmases from a constellation of close friends.
And that’s all fine. Despite what television tells us, Christmas needn’t look any one particular way. There are lots of different Christmases. It needn’t be — and I say this in defiance of the Crate and Barrel catalog — cookies and centerpieces and dinners and gifts and roaring fires and hot chocolate. It can be, but it needn’t. Sure, my Christmas traditions include The Grinch (animated! not the movie!), my mom’s buffet, a candlelight service, and my husband and I’s romantic Christmas Eve, but other people’s holidays won’t look the same, nor should they.
The only thing that Christmases need share is a recognition of the glory in Luke 2:14, the miracle about which angels sang:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.
When Love came down to visit us and live with us, we knew God’s favor. When Love suffered and died and rose again, we knew God’s favor. And we know it still now, and carry it with us and in us. Know it while you watch Netflix, know if while you hug family, know it while you eat pizza or ham or just cookies from a tin, know it if you are alone or if you are not, know it wherever you are, however you celebrate, whatever happens this holiday season.
You are loved and favored and highly, highly blessed. Merry Christmas!