My mom will tell a story about one particular Christmas. My brother, sister, and I had been naughtier than usual, and she pretty much had enough of us. At her breaking point she announced that there would be No Christmas that year. I can only imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth that must have followed from us kids. The tree was already up but there would be no presents.
Christmas Eve came. We went to services at church. Once our program was over, we arrived home, and even though our typical gift opening would not be happening the three of us got out toys from previous years and set them under the tree. We cut cheese and crackers and made a little platter, put some cookies on a tray and brought it out into the living room to eat around the fireplace, an annual tradition. My mom was so moved by our actions, (there must have been some contrition on our part as well) that she tearfully brought out the presents she had purchased for us, and gave them to us still in their bags from the store. Together that year we celebrated an unwrapped Christmas.
Often in my mind I will go back to that year. My memory of it has blurred and meshed together with the story as it’s been shared over the years, perhaps making it rosier than it was at the time. But sometimes I wonder if we should be celebrating every Christmas that way. We can leave out the naughty children and the overwhelmed parent – and celebrate a simple Christmas without all the wrappings. Without all the trappings. Let’s make a Christmas that is focused on the most basic of traditions with minimal preparations. Let’s share simple food, simple gifts, and an abundance of forgiveness this Christmas.