Market Gypsy: The meaning of Christmas

As I listen to The First Noel by The Evergreen Trio and know many of us have gifts to drop off but no time to visit the recipient, I think this time of year is magical yet hectic and nerve racking.

Riddled with guilt because we are unable to spend the holiday with those we love. It may be heart-breaking lonely as many are completely alone, or dealing with someone no longer with them or someone must make the choice between gifts and a meal.

We see so much joy on television and think perhaps we are not living up to what Christmas is all about. Perhaps you don’t even celebrate Christmas and scoff at all its commercialization.

However, there are some of us who believe that the sound of Charlie Brown’s Christmas is all it takes to bring us back to beautiful memories recalled in a way that the original glow and warmth of that moment is restored and surrounds us.

Some of us may take a walk in the woods along the trails and marvel at the sparkle from the snow on the trees and feel the cool air as we are bundled up hearing the crunch of the snow under our step reminding us that a simple moment is magical.

The truth is that we can make it spectacular in very little or extravagant ways. When my mother was a very young child, her family lived on a remote farm in Manitoba. It was during a time when Ukrainian families didn’t have much but knew that their efforts were for generations to follow. To celebrate, they would cook, bake and share it all. They would set the table with a beautifully embroidered tablecloth. They would also place hay under the big wooden kitchen table to symbolize the manger and placed pennies for the children to find. Anyone who would stop by another neighbouring house would always bring a freshly baked loaf of bread wrapped in the finest dish cloth they had and give this simple but yet precious gift to the household.

Remember that it was difficult to have rationed sugar, yeast or flour at times and a loaf of bread to many was a generous gift. But what it symbolized was the wheat and that symbolized good luck, abundance, and a beautiful life in the New Year.

Gift giving is a symbolic offering acknowledging a person that you are grateful for in your life. It is a symbol of joy and connection. But for a moment, consider that caring and loving are not done through gift giving alone and seasonally but practiced all year.

Life has not always been fair or offered me what I thought I’d deserved or my good behaviour was not rewarded. Over the years, I know that I have been selfish, thoughtless, and failed but I have never forgotten that where there is forgiveness, sharing, another chance to give, and unwavering love that the Christmas spirit can be carried on throughout the year.

It isn’t the tinsel or coloured lights or even the Santa suit that makes Christmas, it is you. It is you in all your glory wishing those around you peace, happiness and goodwill. It is you and the joy you bring to peoples’ lives, not just during the holidays but throughout the year.

So enjoy the yuletide, the good food, the trip home, the hug from your parents and the time of the year that is set aside to celebrate whomever and whatever is important to you.

Sharlyn lives in Red Deer preparing for her second West Coast Trail hike or cooking up a feast. For more, find her on Instagram @market.gypsy or Facebook – MarketGypsy.

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