I remember as a child going to bed early on Christmas Eve. We always waited until Christmas Day to open our gifts and somehow going to bed early was supposed to make Christmas arrive sooner. I can remember the excitement of wondering what I would get each year. Sometimes our gifts were store-bought, while other times we received things mom and dad had made special for us. My three siblings and I would get up at two and three o’clock in the morning. We would wake our parents up, talk about the birth of Jesus, and open gifts in the middle of the night. We realized Christmas probably wasn’t the day Jesus was actually born, but we chose to celebrate His birth on that day.
Around six or seven mom would cook breakfast. When I say breakfast, I’m not talking a small breakfast. We had biscuits, gravy, eggs, hash browns, ham, bacon, sausage, apples, and homemade jams and jellies. We would gather together around the family table, say a prayer of thanks, and enjoy time together as a family.
Tonight, it’s Christmas Eve. I’m in no big hurry to go to bed. As an adult, Christmas just doesn’t seem to have the excitement and magic it had when I was a child. Instead of the big homemade breakfast I enjoyed as a child, I’ll be having a bottle of Ensure Clear for breakfast. Then I’ll head off to church with my family. After church I’ll probably come home and watch movies. Now that two of my siblings are married and have families of their own, we don’t gather to celebrate the Christmas holiday until New Year’s Day. Even then, I won’t be able to enjoy the meal because of my gastroparesis.
However, I refuse to let not eating and being in pain get me down. There’s more to family than eating together. Holidays have become commercialized and focused on gifts and food. Everyone is so focused on gifts and food that they get stressed out and miss the important thing… family time together. I think it’s time we stand up against the big box store commercialization of holidays and take our families back. We won’t all be here forever and it’s important that we make time to visit…to talk and laugh. We need to enjoy the little moments and not let them just pass us by.
This year, I may not be able to eat, but at least I get to be with my family. Whether they decide to watch a movie, play a board game, sing Christmas carols, or something else, I’ll be there enjoying the time I have with my family. Instead of focusing on what we get for a gift or what we are going to eat, let’s try to focus on love and not take our families for granted… not just this one day a year, but the whole year through. Instead of worrying about who got what, let’s focus on making memories that will stay with us forever.