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The Change in Christmas

The Change in Christmas

By Danielle Stephens

The earliest memory I have of Christmas are lights – colorful lights. I remember New Year because my family did not celebrate Christmas. It’s all tangled up in my mind, they’re practically the same holiday.

But after the lights, I remember sadness. I remember divinity that “never turned out.” Probably the west coast humidity. I remember anxiety over ham or turkey. I remember the first holiday without my dad. Then, I remember the “we won’t be giving gifts this year” talks. I remember being the charity case.

Those Salvation Army Santa’s rang their bell for families like mine.

I remember our first Christmas in Missouri, how hard my mom worked to protect us from the “lie of Jesus’ birth.” We scoffed at how hard our neighbors worked to justify pagan traditions by giving them Christian meanings. I remember being the outcast. My mom decided on a compromise with our Christian grandmother who took us in (who celebrated Christmas).

The school newspaper wrote about it: My Family’s Celebration of “Xmas.”

I remember my first Christmas as a Christian. The wonder of it all came alive, but the sadness and stress didn’t leave. I still preferred New Year. I remember being the antisocial one. I didn’t give good gifts. I didn’t share the joy of an entire childhood full of happy Christmas memories. I didn’t know the words to Silent Night.

I remember my first Christmas with my husband. He showed up with a bow on his head after a long journey back home. I remember being the sappy-in-love girl, I didn’t care.

I remember my first Christmas with a baby. It was the first time I ever felt energized to give gifts. I just wanted to give. Having a child put flesh on the gift God gave humanity when he became totally dependent. I could see it, right before my sleep-deprived eyes.

I remember being the outcast, charity-case kid hating the Christian ideas of Christmas. Since then, I’ve become a Christian, sappy-in-love, a new mother, and this is my first Christmas as a stay-at-home mom.

Thirty years of constant change.

I still remember the lights when I was younger, my first holiday joy. My oldest is the same age I was when my dad left. I think I’ll finally have time to take him to see Christmas lights. Maybe I’ll teach him the words to Silent Night.

About Danielle Stephens

Danielle Stephens is a 30-something woman who has happened to find Jesus, a good man, an unlikely career of accounting, and more recently the role of stay-at-home mother to three sweet, rowdy children. She taps out thoughts in spurts of passion on her phone and publishes a tenth of them on her tiny blog, foundmercy.com.

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