Sunday, December 16, 2012

Merry Koda Christmas: Author, Roxane B. Salonen

What I love about Christmas:
“Waiting in Joyful Hope”
Roxane B. Salonen, Fargo, ND

What I love most about Christmas happens well before Dec. 25.

Let me explain. The other day I visited the online calendar of the parochial school my youngest sons attend, and was met with these words: “Waiting in Joyful Hope.”

Those four words exemplify what I love about Christmas.

When I was young, Christmas often was about accumulating as many presents as possible. My sister and I would have contests to see who had the most gifts under the tree. Who would be the victor?

But even as we played this little game, I have to believe we felt the shallowness of it all. I have reflected back on this empty endeavor many times through the years while contemplating what Christmas really means.

To be fair, back then I was caught up in the consumerism of the season like everyone else I knew. But over time, I’ve become more mindful of the most treasured gift for which we await this time each year.

What could be a better present than that of unconditional love; the kind of love we can only receive in full from the one who is God, the one who loved us into being?

Now in my post-greed days, my Christmas season tends to builds slowly leading up to Dec. 25 and reaching a crescendo at Christmas Eve Mass, when I am reminded, anew, of the most important gift of all. And because I’ve trained myself to peek behind the flashing lights to discover that deeper meaning, I hold on to Christmas as long as possible. After all, is there any reason to let go of hope? Do we really need to toss it out like yesterday’s Christmas tree on Dec. 26?

Even as we succumb to the exorbitant measures our culture pushes pre-Christmas in order to reach its financial goals, I really believe that underlying all of that, every human heart understands on some level that there’s something more.

The child who has become greedy through commercials and ads promising material things can fulfill understands at bottom that the pleasure of receiving a new toy is fleeting.

I don’t want to belittle the joy of wrapping a gift and giving it to a loved one or someone in need. But in the end, what we all long for the very most – each and every one of us – is what I mentioned at the start: unconditional love.

Christmas, to me, is the promise of that, both in the build-up and lead-in and follow-through. It was never meant to be one big event that ends in an anticlimactic thud. Rather, it is a waiting, in joyful hope, for something that is coming. The moment our hearts grasp this, they will have no choice but to leap for joy!

No matter the excess of glitz and glitter that sometimes falsely presents this hope, I believe every human heart can grasp the loveliness of the joy of hopeful expectation.

This is what keeps Christmas in our hearts after the snow melts. It is what keeps us living and loving into January and beyond.

God bless your Advent and Merry Christmas to All!

Roxane Salonen has been my friend for several years. She is the author of  P is for Peace Garden, and First Salmon, both great children's books. In addition to her writing, Roxane is a wife and the mother of five beautiful children. She never ceases to amaze me in her courage and conviction in all that she does.  Thank you, Roxane, for sharing your thoughts on Christmas with us today!