When I was a child, I asked God to send us Santa. I figured He was the boss, after all.
If Santa happens to see my grownup Christmas list this year, I think he'd better pass it straight on to Jesus.
The things I'm asking for are not things, but my wishes feel a bit selfish, asking for deliverance. Nevertheless, here are the big three, St. Nicholas:
Peace on Christmas
Last Christmas we traveled, and we had good conversation, funny and bonding moments with family, but our oldest daughter was miserably sick the whole vacation. I truly made things much worse, because I was highly emotional, fully at odds with my own person, wasn't sleeping well and was therefore exhausted. Also, I was losing faith in a few important things, first and foremost myself.
Santa, every special day this year - Easter, Mother's Day, our wedding anniversary, Halloween - has been met with sick children and/or an emotional/ill mother; I just had a huge come apart the day before Thanksgiving, for crying out loud! So please, sir, if we could all just feel happy, well and peaceful at Christmas...if I could be taught anew to be a peacemaker in spite my internal struggles...it would indeed be a merry, blessed time of year.
"Make your family something beautiful for God in love, peace, unity and joy. Even if you pray ten minutes together, it is worthwhile. It is worthwhile. Get together, always together, always together, even when you have misunderstandings, get together. Forgive and forget and you will be really filled with God's love, really have the peace of God in your heart. This is very, very important.
- Mother Teresa talking to volunteers in Calcutta, December 21st, 1995
Dear St. Nick, I could use some serious help here. I have fallen into a bad habit of judging someone very harshly based on how they look and how successful they are.
That someone I'm judging so mercilessly is me.
My husband keeps saying he doesn't understand why I'm being so hard on myself. I am failing to see much of what God or any kind, loving person sees in me. I know many others struggle in this way, and I, too, am weary of it. I criticize even my hands - hands with which I do yard work and dishes and roll eucalyptus wreaths - for being too rough and scarred instead of being grateful as I should for the tasks I accomplish with them. I rail against my inability to keep my home clean though I work hard at it continually. I agonize over the fact that I sin to some degree every single day. I compare my hair and even my make-up and clothes to others' and to my own ideas of perfection. And I beat myself up regularly for not figuring out how to be successful as a writer, for not convincing people to like my words and stories.
Please leave the secret recipe for acceptance in my stocking this Christmas or, better yet, tomorrow in my shoe.
An expert is someone who has made all the mistakes, and if you haven't, then you're a work in progress, like most people. Accept the child within you who is innocent and sometimes also ignorant. Be kind to yourself; that's where compassion starts.
- Amit Sood, M.D., M.Sc. in The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living
The Old Familiar Places (or feelings)
For years he has called at lunch every day when he can. Our conversations weren't always the most peaceful or stimulating, but they were natural and easy and often full of laughter, even if the kids were making constant noise in the background.
I badly want to feel like that young wife again.
Now, when my husband calls at lunch, there are no sounds of rowdy children in the background, but our conversations aren't as easy or free as they once were. I often become irritable, because I am or have been ruminating on unimportant but nettling things, growing anxious.
When he arrives home at the end of the day, I rarely don't have makeup on and hair combed, but my attitude is not as joyful or expectant as when I used to run out to hug him in the driveway before all the neighbors, before his days were so long and work came home and there were evening activities for the kids every night of the week.
I am keeping the faith, Santa, that I can return to that carefree attitude with a little help from the Spirit of Christmas this December and then hopefully not lose it again.
I have been, am and always will be in love with my Matthew; I just feel like I've personally lost my moorings.
The great secret of a successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters.
-Sir Harold George Nicolson
Love doesn't just sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.
- Ursula K Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
There is no remedy for love but to love more.