Christmas was yesterday, and it was kind of empty. It’s true that we didn’t have a traditional Christmas as far as the food goes. We had done that on 12/21 to accommodate some family members who wouldn’t be able to join us on Christmas day. So as not to have to do a repeat of that (mostly the clean-up part) just a few days later, we decided to just pick up some pizza or Mexican food on Christmas Day. This was definitely a first for me, but I figured some financially enterprising eateries would be open. That actually wasn’t the case, and I simply couldn’t bring myself to partake of a Burger King combo or something of that ilk. I don’t want that any day of the year, but particularly on Christmas. Yes, it was going to be non-traditional, but it didn’t have to be stomach turning was my rationale.
After calling about 20 places and even doing an online search, it was clear that the ordering of food from a restaurant wasn’t going to be a possibility, and at that point, I almost didn’t want to order from any restaurant that would be open on such a sacred day, so instead I suggested we just grill burgers and chicken wings. For sides we would have vegetarian baked beans, various flavors of potato chips and some oven baked potato wedges. We would make sure to have a minimum of fuss and clean up by utilizing aluminum trays instead of ceramic platters, and somehow we would make it festive even without a burnished turkey and candied yams.
Christmas morning arrived with my granddaughter announcing that she was ready to open her presents, and, of course, everyone needed to be present for this event. My kids are biracial, and it was important to my daughter that any dolls purchased, unless they were charactor dolls, were to be African-American. The Elsa doll from the movie, “Frozen”, was okay, but no white Barbies or anything like that, so I purchased a relatively costly newborn sized Black baby doll, which was quickly rejected by my granddaughter in favor of platinum haired Elsa who she carries around with her everywhere, and the opening of the presents continued at a frenzied pace. My granddaughter and her brother got a bunch of loot as was expected.
Later in the day my other daughter and her family arrived as well as my sister and her boyfriend, and we exchanged gifts and the grilling commenced. A few other people stopped by with infants in tow, and I got to cradle a newborn baby boy in my arms for thirty minutes as he grinned contendedly and made cooing sounds in his sleep. That felt a little closer to Christmas.
All in all the day was pleasant enough, but there was an undeniable emptiness that prevailed. There was no telling of the Christmas story to the children and only a few random carols filling the empty spaces thanks to a Mariah Carey Christmas. I did not attend a Christmas service or a musical concert during the holidays. Nor did I help serve food at a mission or pass out presents to children or any of that, and I think that accounts for the sense that something was missing from my holiday celebration, which turned out to be all about a pretty, decorated tree, throwing together a few meals and buying presents.
I am quick to talk about how Christmas has been hijacked by all things commercial, but this time it was me who did the hijacking, and the empitness of a Christmas without Christ still hangs forlornly in the air, and I know it’s something that watching “A Wonderful Life” or admiring a festive tree won’t fix, and all I can do after the fact is say to the Messiah “Sorry I forgot to send you an invitation to my home this year and it won’t happen again.”