The Christ of Christmas

Whoever thought we’d see the day when we had to think twice about greeting people with ‘Merry Christmas’ lest we offend the one out of the thousand souls we see a day? Hard to fathom. We have become a people who take pride in being offended and can’t wait to tell you so – in an offensive manner.
Time to take back Christmas? I can’t imagine the 99% of the people who are enjoying this holiday having to give up wishing others a Merry Christmas just because we might run into someone who objects. Personally, I’ve never had that experience. BUT . . .
I once greeted a man the day after Thanksgiving with the question,
“How are you? Did you have a good Thanksgiving?”
To which he responded proudly, “I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving!”
(That was a first for me.) So I said,
“Well, did you stay home and relax and watch football anyway?”
“Well, yah, I did.”
“Good for you!”, I replied.
And as I drove off I said out loud – imagining he were still in front of me, “So, you DID celebrate Thanksgiving, you just weren’t thankful? You took advantage of the day off, you stayed home and did all the stuff, but you made it a point to let me know that you weren’t thankful all day!!”  How.very.sad.
Our family is Scandinavian – Swedish in fact, and we’re also from the Minnesota background that Garrison Keillor speaks of in his opening monologue of The Prairie Home Companion when he says, “Where the women are strong (that’s me!), the men are good looking, (boy howdy!), and the children are all above average. (I know my 3 sons are!)
Growing up, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. I’ll admit that I have not looked into the why of that, but it’s always been that way and it works for us. It allows us to have all of our sons and daughter-in-laws with us without any conflicting schedules. They’re here Christmas Eve and with their in-laws Christmas day! And since my soon to be 93 year old mother would like to have all her progeny around her, we meet at my sister’s house every Christmas Eve and have a meal together. Last night there were 36 or so of us piled together, stuffing our faces with some of the most delicious food you have ever eaten in your lifetime, which allowed my mother to look around the rooms and say, “What have I done??”
Christmas day is just a relaxed day of spending time with each other, watching movies, whatever – but the bottom line is. . . there is no schedule of any event happening. You don’t have to watch the clock, all the rush is behind you.
As a postal worker, you cannot imagine what this day means in comparison to yesterday. No packages to line up, no time frame to meet, no high anxiety stress to manage. On this day, I can indulge in being ‘brain dead’ without guilt. And I indulge, believe me.
Now, as we face the last few days of what was known as 2014 and employ that facet of our natures that cannot be avoided – retrospect – (which is also an album by Buffalo Springfield) we’ll look back at the 365 days that flew by so fast and ask that age old question, “Where the heck did that time go?”
In the upcoming year I look forward to:
January – Accomplishing 18 months of fulltime work with the post office and I have not gone postal. . . yet.
February – Finishing 62 years of life and starting on the 63rd year, Lord willing.
March –   Celebrating 40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart whom I first met in kindergarten. I cannot express in words how much I love and appreciate, honor and respect this man. We have reached the age where everything makes us laugh and we read each other’s thoughts. God has been very good to me.
April – Is the milestone birthday of our youngest, Nelssen, who will be 30. A son who has always brought us much joy and laughter.
May –  Dane and I have one older sister each, both of whom have May 1st birthdays. Both of whom have loved us (and all the siblings) un-conditionally and kept the family histories, contacts, and taken care that we all love each other. Both of whom are not only sisters in blood, but are sisters in Christ. We are very blessed to have Judy and Claudia in our lives.
June – will celebrate our oldest son’s 38th birthday. As fine a man as you would ever wish to know with a brain that borders on genius. This past year was the first time that someone, upon hearing our last name asked his dad, “Hamren? Do you know Jarl Hamren?” And when told that that was our son, proceeded to sing his praises about the infinite amount of information that Jarl could spout about nearly every vehicle he  mentioned. Yes, he’s got a lot of brains!
July – is the birthdays of both Dane (62) and our middle son Preston (35). We always celebrate Dane’s birthday by having 150 or so people over to our house the day before and letting him shoot fireworks. (Commonly known as Independence Day). And Preston has brought 6 grandchildren into our lives. As any grandparent knows, there is nothing like the joy of grandchildren. The old adage “If I’d known how much fun grandchildren were – I’d have had them first,”  is certainly true. They are sooooo much fun!!
August – Can I skip August? It’s too hot and I don’t like heat. . .
September / October – When the leaves start to change and the world grows quite and nostalgic.  Writers sit down at their keyboards bursting with stories to tell as they stare out their window at the beautiful colors of nature, and dream of life changing novels with clever phrases and plot twists.
November / December – Thanksgiving and Christmas loom large on the horizon. Stress levels rise at the same rate that bank balances go down. Lists, lists everywhere! The few more ‘organized’ people writing blogs about how you should have started buying gifts last August  for a more stress-less Christmas. (but I skipped August!!)
And so, dear friends:
You have already seen 2015 from beginning to the end
The year will fly by in the blink of an eye, and the sorrows and joys will blend
into living life with it’s ups and downs, it’s lows that will change to highs,
To some it will mean new beginnings. To others ’twill be goodbyes.
Though it’s good to have goals at which to aim, your time is not in your hands.
Remember, enjoy every minute. “Life happens while you’re making plans”.