I'm not religious, but I do celebrate Christmas. I think Christmas is in the eye of the beholder as I like to reflect on the gifts I've received throughout the year and express my gratitude for them. Christmas evolves over time. For me, it has evolved from anticipation for the gifts I'm gonna get to a time that I can notice the gifts I have received, but have not yet acknowledged.
I can remember the Christmas of my early youth. I was the first one up on Christmas day. I got up early because I wanted to see the tree, in all its splendor, lights, ornaments and gifts, glistening and sparkling as the lights would blink at random. I love those lights and to this day, have never seen another set like them. To me, those lights are what make a Christmas tree so special.
On Christmas day, I got up at 5 or 6, when it was dark enough to see the lights in action. I loved how the lights would blink at random, in no particular order. I loved how the lights would shine, in so many colors and I loved how the multicolored light would reflect off the walls and the shiny gifts below. I enjoyed finding a place to sit for awhile and admire it all together in a quiet early morning hour.
After enjoying the sight of the lights on the tree, with presents gathered below, I turned my attention to the stockings. I loved the little gifts in the stockings, the chocolate coins and whatever else I could find inside. I gathered my stocking, retreated to my bedroom and enjoyed the discovery of the gifts that await me there.
Once in my bedroom, I dumped the contents onto my bed and found many interesting small gifts that were too small to wrap. The gifts were mixed with a few candy treats, my favorite being the chocolate coins. After that, there wasn't much to do until Mom and Dad were awake, so I had a few coins and went back to sleep.
As an young adult, I didn't celebrate Christmas much living alone, for there was no one really, to share it with at home. I would just visit Mom's house on Christmas Eve and go to a movie on Christmas Day. I really didn't know what to do with myself then, as I was a rather self-absorbed young man, too busy worrying about himself to think of others.
I didn't rediscover Christmas until recently, when I got married and then again, when Emily, my first child, was born. Emily loves the lights. She is enjoying the visits from the family and the festive conversation. She really enjoys the finger food when she can get some.
As an older adult, I don't worry so much about the gifts I may receive. I am more concerned with noticing the gifts I already have and enjoying them. In the quiet moments, between caring for Emily, my job, or that computer project at home, I notice many of the things that I have now, that I didn't have before. I also notice the peace that I have now, peace in my mind that I didn't have before.
It is in quiet moments of early Christmas morning, that I notice what I have and am grateful for all of it that I can see at the moment. There is nothing to change and nothing to receive, for it is only when we accept the way we are now, without any reservation, that we can notice the gifts that we have. It is at that moment of acceptance that I find gratitude filing my consciousness.