Saturday, December 24, 2016

Favorite Christmas tradition: letting go...

Taz, our Yorkshire terrier, yanked his leash out of our younger daughter's hand last Saturday evening as I was finally decorating our home with nutcrackers and their snowman friends and my husband and oldest son were stringing lights on our roof. Our dog tore after a cat, but when the cat jumped our neighbor's low wall, Taz instead slid full force into it, causing a debilitating fracture or serious neurological damage (the specialists could not tell for sure).

My daughters were near hysterical. I was terrified for the poor creature, and my husband asked no one in particular, "What did you do to this dog?", when he saw Taz's immobilized state.

That is how our last week of Advent began, with a trip to the emergency vet where my husband and son waited five hours on a Sunday with little information.

We do know his left leg is lame, and our normally energetic fella gets to spend weeks in the kennel or a small room on strict bed rest.

Thank God, the days have improved since that unfortunate event, though I'm certain this Christmas will be remembered for it. After the initial tears and fear that our poor terrier might never be the same, we petted and loved him, forced him to take his medicine and more water than he freely imbibed, and I wiped his little tush as if he were my fifth baby. We nursed our pet while watching Christmas movies, threading a popcorn garland, playing games, making construction paper adornments and during breaks from shaping and baking cookies and stirring fudge.

We made do, putting on Christmas cheer after temporarily despairing of its arrival this year (at least for my part).

So I - and I hope my whole family - will have good memories of honored family traditions along with the bad ones of unexpected injury and its trials.

Every year I learn anew to choose which traditions to reign in, which ones to let go, and what new ones we can attempt to establish amid the chaos.

And you know what? This is what I've learned this year:

It's okay to try to choose the perfect gifts for relatives, but then realize you don't know what they are or where they can be found and just send something you hope they like (because you like it)..

It's okay to eat frozen pizza on Christmas Eve, because you waited too long to order tamales from a fine Mexican restaurant or farmer's market in town.

It's okay to begin baking and decorating just a week before Christmas.

And it's certainly alright not to hang up every last ornament to save yourself some time after the Christmas season has passed.

It's okay not to send Christmas cards again this year to childhood friends and distant relatives, even though you really wish you had.

And realizing that, since you are a Catholic, the Christmas season does not truly end for you until a few weeks from now at the celebration of the Baptism of our Lord, it's fine to send your big sister's family, also Catholic, their Christmas gifts in January.

It's all okay. Traditions should not be burdensome even though sometimes they are burdens we carry with love, no matter how exhausted or out of sorts we may be.

So here's to another Christmas Eve, my friends, anticipating Santa and celebrating our beautiful Jesus by going to Mass or another lovely church service.

May God bless us, everyone, and a very Merry Christmas to you all!


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