At Christmas time, we hear a lot about joy. Buy the perfume, “Joy”. Discover the joy of XYZ. Joy to the World. So what is Joy to me, especially at Christmas? It is certainly not a product line. It is the sum of those little rituals that we look forward to every year.
As a little girl, I remember my parents sitting at or around the piano preparing for the Christmas Pageant at St John’s the Apostle each year. This was very serious business. Then the magic happened. My Mom and Dad and another Choir member began to write silly songs for the end of the year get-together. I could see my usually serious Mom come alive, I could hear the sound of laughter and I could feel the current of creativity. For me, this was pure Joy!
I can’t help it. Christmas is full of joy for me. It is truly about the little things. There is always something to see, hear, smell and taste that only comes around once a year. Our Christmas tree sparkles with lights and ornaments, each one with a special meaning. Our basement echoes with the sound of laughter as each of us opens a gift with a background story or a gentle ribbing. Our meal cooks slowly, the intoxicating smell reaching every corner of our house. Our table groans with food, each dish tastier than the next.
Of course these comforting rituals have evolved over time, as we and the kids have grown older. Christmas Eve became a spaghetti dinner with our grandchildren. Christmas morning’s orange and chocolate-filled stockings were replaced by a maple syrup-soaked waffle breakfast. School projects and homemade presents morphed into books and theatre tickets. Christmas pudding changed to chocolates. Leftovers in take-away containers became a welcome end to the evening. All of these things, although different, continue to contribute to my joy at Christmas.
So why does the sum of these small Christmas-time rituals give so much Joy? These rituals bring us together and give us something to look forward to during the darkest part of the winter. They are a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.