Christmas isn’t Christmas without family potlucks, festive shopping, and swapping presents. At least, that’s what I thought before calamity struck and the true meaning of Christmas was laid bare…
A True Christmas Story About Resilience
A few weeks before December, 2020, our province locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was distraught. Christmas in lockdown? I felt responsible – as mom’s often do – to make the holidays still feel special. But how?
Hoping to help my family process our circumstances, I sat them down and openly discussed how different our celebrations might look. I shared my feelings of sadness over what we would be missing during my favorite time of the year. My children then expressed their own concerns:
“Will the tree farm be open? Can we still go pick out a tree?”
“But we’re running out of tape. How will we wrap presents? Are the stores selling any? Is tape an essential item?”
“What about gatherings, Mom? Will we still go to Grandma’s for Christmas morning waffles?”
I didn’t know the answers to their questions. Selfishly, I wondered why the world’s health crisis had to mess with our holiday plans. By the end of the conversation, we were all left trying to squelch our fears that Christmas was about to be come something very depressing.
Surprised by Joy
In the following weeks, however, I was surprised to discover joy breaking through my clouds of gloom:
- I witnessed intentional kindness at the supermarket. Where once fellow shoppers doled out quick, insincere smiles, we now took pains to show our deep desire for human interaction. I’d contort my facial muscles, hoping my smile would reach up past the mandatory face mask and add a twinkle to my eyes. Often, I was rewarded with the sight of passersby crinkling their eyes in return.
- I felt gratitude growing in my heart. Even the simplest links to the outside world, such as a phone call or a surprise delivery at my door, lifted my spirits. In the past, I’d taken for granted my freedom to gather with family and friends, but now I cherished every moment of connection.
As I experienced these blessings, a spark of hope ignited within. I wondered: What defines Christmas? What makes it meaningful?
I realized that what I truly desired was to celebrate in a way that served a purpose. What was that purpose? To share God’s love.
Excited, I called another family meeting. This time, we didn’t focus on what our Christmas couldn’t be. Instead, we brainstormed ways that we could spread love to neighbors, family, friends, and also to each other.
Christmas, 2020 soon became a festive, fun-loving adventure:
- Since government health orders disallowed indoor gatherings, I invited family and friends for winter walks outside to catch up.
- My children and I dropped off gifts, cookies, and cards to people we knew in the neighborhood (and some we didn’t).
- We created a scavenger hunt for young cousins to find gifts in their own hometown.
- Our family laughed through more board-games than ever before. We also ate more snacks. The memories we gained were well worth the extra pounds.
- The kids and I even succeeded in keeping one of our favourite Christmas-caper traditions: “love-bombing” our neighbors. We delivered these packages under the cover of night, and not without a few gut-busting mishaps. (You can find out more about “Operation Love-Bomb” here.)
- Text messages and shared photos on WhatsApp quickly became a type of holiday hot line for the extended family. This was how we experienced each other’s Christmas activities and inspired joy.
- And of course, our family also tackled the problem of visiting the tree farm, which was closed due to Covid restrictions. As a substitute for our usual day of tree-farm fun, we got creative and tried something new. We packed a hand-saw and a thermos of hot chocolate, hopped in the truck, and drove 40 minutes to the Sandilands Forest. There, in a designated area, with our tree-cutting permit in hand, we tromped through the snowy woods to pick our first “wild” Christmas tree. The kids were overjoyed when we found just the right one. “Let’s do this every year!” they cheered.
Christmas is What You Make It
Wouldn’t you know, by the end of the day on December 25th, Christmas was still Christmas, after all.
Our family’s age-old traditions of gatherings and potlucks and exchanging gifts remain dear to my heart, and I hope we can enjoy them again. Yet, I’ve realized that my family is resilient. We can adapt, and we’ll adapt again. But above all, I’ve discovered that when you share God’s love with those around you, every Christmas can be a meaningful celebration.
Do You Need to Revamp Christmas This Year?
What about you? Is there a reason that you need to revamp your Christmas celebrations this year?
Be of good cheer! Christmas is more than gatherings and gifts. Christmas is love in action. Christmas is gratitude for God’s gift of his Son. So go ahead. Change things up. Get creative. Make joy.
And remember – no matter the circumstances – Jesus is our greatest gift, our everything, our life.
Want to read more true Christmas stories about our family? Try these:
- Operation Love Bomb: A True Christmas Story about Kindness
- The Great Christmas Tree Debate: A True Christmas Story about Obedience