As a non believer of Christmas, I would rather skip the whole experience if given a choice. The negatives outweigh the positives in my view. Lately I have noticed a change in my perceptions and I like it a bit more. Christmas becomes an occasion to slow down, take a deep breath, seek out the loved ones in your life that you want to be with and make an effort to get close by traveling in a time that is least attractive for travel. The advance shopping must be minor, as the gifting must just be a symbol of the love offered and accepted in return. The days’ agenda cannot be too busy and not a whole lot of demands for obligatory visits can be made, as that would spoil it.
Somebody called it the season of demands and obligations. I liked that. Somehow this year was better for me. The obligations were kept to a minimum; the required visit to the ex-in-laws was short
and sweet, instigated by my sweet, but unrelenting offspring, as her grandmother was recently widowed and needed her relatives around her on this first Christmas without her companion.
We were a collection of odds and ends: people thrown together because of history, family or and emotional ties, together for lack of
the excuse of a family of their own and children that would make it hard to travel. Somehow that was all right, although the temperature in the flat had risen to boiling point and that was the sign for the visitors to leave and retire for the evening.
After a ten year hiatus, I felt OK in the in-law environment and less stressed than anticipated. It was delightful to be part of my only child’s life for a few days and to be one of her loved ones. This was a privilege, to be savoured and remembered, and possibly the real reason for Christmas: in the depth of the winter counting our blessings in the presence of love and appreciation.
johanna van zanten
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