As a young girl I would beg my mom to put the Yule Log on TV. We had our own giant brick fireplace that would blaze all day and night thanks to my capable brothers, but I wanted the Yule Log on in the corner too. With its’ soothing versions of all the Christmas carols I loved, the camera would pan out to reveal a charming living room and beautifully decorated mantle complete with stockings hung with care. As a child I wondered if other people loved it as much as I did. For hours I would lay in front of my “real” fireplace coloring or petting the dogs, as family came in and out. No one dared to ever change the channel as I was oddly attached to everything about it.
Who knew that forty years later, on a Christmas Day in my quiet, little apartment this same Yule Log would be “burning” in my living room. The emotions are a mixed bag, filled with whimsy, love and some sadness all at once. But the overall experience is one of comfort. Of something so silly that remained timeless all of these years later. It’s remarkable really. I simply tried channel 11 with the hopes it was still on air and there it was.
Not every family is together and close during the holidays. Some are scattered, busy or just not living anymore. Memories comprise much of what keeps things alive for some. Draw close to those who are a part of your earthly life, as they are given to you for a purpose. As functional, dysfunctional or even nutty as they may be, they are your tribe.
Be a good steward of the care and keeping of them. Your parents or in laws who annoy you won’t be around to bug you forever. The small children who woke you at 4:45 am today because Santa came will let you sleep more than you care too very, very soon. In a blink of an eye the family landscape changes, and with it comes an entirely new form of “normal”. The hustle and bustle can become a beautiful waltz with age, or just a distant memory depending on how you frame it now, and what you focus on within it all.
The tiresome running to and fro, of touching base in two or more places and wishing for peace and quiet will be yours someday. The cooking, cleaning, wrapping and decorating that feels so robotic and tiring now will become poignant and sacred rituals to “future you”. I only wish I could find pine needles months from now, and had breakfast dishes to clean up and put away. There is no wrapping paper to toss, toys to put together or traditions to keep, and I recall the moments in my mind when the business of it used to leave me breathless and exhausted in my bed questioning the “value” of it all.
The value is priceless, but it must be cultivated, expressed and passed on as the gift above all the physical gifts that lay under a tree. Second only to what Christians celebrate as the birth of Jesus is what families celebrate as the passing on of love, unity and traditions, regardless of how simple or elaborate things may be. It is tragically so easy to miss this.
I can still hear the ticking of my clock in the kitchen, but it is much less pronounced with the music flowing from my TV, and the glow of my Yule Log will be even more enjoyable as the sun sets later on this afternoon. On this quiet Christmas Day my wish for everyone near and far are the gifts of love, peace, unity and family. The formation of lasting legacies that far out way bank accounts and five car garages. The simple acts of random kindness, care, beauty and the wisdom to know what really matters. No life or family is perfect. With the foundation of forgiveness new structures can be built as old walls come down, but each person must be willing to pick up the tools needed to build the “house” together, knowing that “Love” is a team sport and an action word.
Participate wholeheartedly while you can, knowing the people around you are really and truly all you need, imperfect or challenging as they may seem to be. I don’t need to stoke the logs of my television hearth, but I sure wish I could. May your fire always burn brightly, and the warmth of love be an ever present manifestation of a life well lived and true riches earned.