- Sunday, November 11, 2001
And then I turn on the TV.
There are strange romantic behaviors on display. Apparently, every guy is giving his girlfriend diamond earrings, which he will present after a midnight hike on a snow-covered mountain under a full moon in front of a spectacularly lit tree. The guys aren't so fortunate. They appear to all be getting electric razors, which they deserve for doing surprisingly romantic things like fishing diamond earrings out of the toilet bowl they accidentally landed in, or stopping alongside a freeway full of traffic to retrieve the three-year-old's favorite teddy bear. And, of course, loads of good-looking couples are parading about the countryside on horseback, in celebration of the new-found love that's been bestowed on them by--you guessed it--the cologne that comes in the green bottle and happens to be my grandfather's favorite.
(Great rolling of eyes.)
This kind of stuff doesn't bother me. Really. It's Madison Avenue's attempt to capitalize on the romantic feelings we think we're supposed to have to get all of us to spend more money. But they have hit on something deeper--the holidays are about love, and you aren't supposed to be alone at Christmas.
The loneliest Christmas I remember actually came during the middle of a relationship. We started dating in October, and things were good until he went home for Christmas. He was gone for a week. He didn't call once. I didn't sit around waiting for him to call, but my anticipation made me jump every time the phone rang. Christmas came and went without any holiday blessing. We worked things out--we dated for a long time after that--but I should have known then that it wouldn't last.
In the years since, with no reason to expect a special phone call (or diamond earrings!), Christmas has become a deeply meaningful celebration of God's love. I know that God loves me, but throughout the year I wonder if he will continue to love me, if I haven't messed up so horribly that he will change his mind, or come to the end of his grace. Christmas stands as proof of his deep love, of "the wideness in God's mercy," as the old hymn puts it. I sit in the National Cathedral at midnight on Christmas Eve with my family, surrounded by the smell of incense and the rich stained glass windows, and the story of Christmas is all that really matters.
There will be times this year, I'm sure, that I'll feel a twinge of loneliness, and long for help decorating the tree or for company at the endless parade of holiday parties. (From what I've read in the forums, it sounds like we're all in the same boat.) That's OK. Those feelings are normal, and they'll pass. My heart is full this year, nonetheless.
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