I’ve been listening to Christmas music all day. Gotta love DirecTV. I’ve heard everyone from Elvis to Josh Groban sing carols. All good, except for one teensy, weensy little hiccup. So far I’ve heard “Grown Up Christmas List” at least four or five times. Decent song, pretty even. But all that talk about dreams and wishes. Sheesh. Now, rather than dancing a jig to a rousing rendition of “Rudolph”, I’m tearing up.

I’m kind of weird about Christmas. I love it and all, but there’s lots of yuck surrounding Christmas for me, too. I realize it’s about the joy of giving and Jesus being our Emmanuel, the small infant gift of God-with-us. Certainly enough reason to be uber-happy. Emotions, however, don’t always cooperate. All the media brimming with fairytale families and perfect endings don’t help. Why? My dream walked out the door six days before Christmas. Hasn’t come home since. It’s been years, but occasionally the Ghost of Christmas Past still haunts. Time may heal, but it doesn’t erase, and from time to time the “what ifs” play havoc with my heart. When it does, Christmas makes me cry.

It helps to remember I’m in good company. Today I briefly checked out Rethinking Christmas and The Advent Conspiracy, two sites directing readers to reinvent Christmas. However, two blog posts provided the biggest boost: a great discussion thread initiated by Anne Jackson’s post and Expectation or Expectancy? by Ken Davis. Both tackled the more difficult side of Christmas, namely the expectations and emotions that play into whether or not Christmas lives up to the build up.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m guessing someone else needs the camaraderie of a friend who can relate. Off the cuff, I can name a cast of close friends who are facing Christmas with a dose of melancholy: Tim watched his life walk out the door on the same date, last year; Candie is facing the next six days without her son, who committed suicide in January; Rebecca just found out her divorce is final; Sandie is in the middle of a foreclosure and will be homeless soon; Will is still unemployed after nearly a year; Tonya’s mom died a month ago…I could keep going.

We all have our stuff. And for many of us, a storybook Christmas is out of the question. In the absence of perfection, however, Christmas can still be enjoyed. IF (that’s a big if) we can learn to release what could-have-been to embrace what IS. If not, there’s a good chance the expectations will derail the possibilities.

Maybe we need a new set of Christmas blueprints. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like. Still, I know I want to try and make the next days less about me and more about other people who just need to know they’re loved. Including you. How about it? Then, maybe, somewhere in the middle of the tension between old dreams and present realities, we both end up pleasantly surprised.

If so, do me a favor: dance a raucous Rudolph jig, will ya?

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