As a child, the weeks of December meant an overwhelming excitement as each day crept. As a grad student, going home for Christmas meant excising myself from all of the new and challenging and forward-focus to settling into the warmth of tradition and familiarity. As a young parent, it meant experiencing the wonder and magic of the holiday again.
Of course, above all, Christmas is important because of its celebration of the birth of Jesus. Many complain of its commercialization, and, I agree, it's beyond crazy. But regardless of the creepy, blow-up, arm-waving Santas, most people know about the origin of the Christmas holiday. Understand that its roots are deeper than mistletoe and stockings.
After Jamie proposed to me, I spent seven months planning our wedding. We decided on a venue, a photographer, a videographer, my dress, the menu, the goodie bags, the band for the reception...everything down to the flowers on each table. But those seven months weren't a burden. Every moment spent planning for a four-hour celebration only intensified the experience. If I'd passed the baton to someone else and said, "Plan my wedding. I'll simply show up," the night wouldn't have meant as much. To know that each thought put into making it special for not only Jamie and I, but every one we love, made those few, fleeting hours more special.
Christmas is the same. The few hours go quickly, but the weeks leading up to it create a mind-set and experience that transform us and create lasting memories. In December, we sit in anticipation of the holidays. We hum and smile at strangers. We glean the joy and human connection that oftentimes lies dormant.
We find joy in both the journey and the destination. We savor the preparation as much as the few hours of the day. Both bring happiness and create memories that last a lifetime. But in feeling the exhale in the after, let's remember that it doesn't end with the experience. The events are simply a gateway to a life committed. A reminder to look outward instead of inward. To put others before ourselves.