This year I decorated my house for Christmas. Not that I don’t do it every year, but when I started going away for Christmas a few years ago, I switched to “decoration-light.”
Not this year. I needed more help getting that “festive” feeling, so I went full throttle. Taking out old ornaments and trinkets brought back memories of Christmases past…and happy feelings started coming back.
While Joseph trimmed the tree, I went through the “Christmas boxes” and, as I unwrapped this little thing or that one, I thinned out the stash. I let go of anything that didn’t have a personal or emotional significance, or that I once felt “obligated” to keep. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Well this year I decided I’m old enough to toss whatever reminded me of anything or anybody that didn’t bring back a happy memory. It was good – I felt lighter!
Among the “keeps” are my two mangers. One was my parents’manger from their first Christmas. It was displayed under the tree throughout my childhood. Most of the porcelain figures broke long ago, but the Baby Jesus, a few animals, and the manger itself are still there.
The other nativity set is my first one. It’s Avon, bought from a friend who was selling Avon (of course) when I lived in my first apartment. It doesn’t have as much character as the older one, but still has its original parts.
Both nativities are displayed on the living room window seat. They’re easy to notice…which is how, one night last week, I got to thinking about Christmas in New York…
Christmas in Manhattan
It was 2018 when Joseph and I took the train to Manhattan on Christmas Eve morning. We stayed at a funky little place across the street from Grand Central Station. After checking in, we took a paid tour of the iconic landmark with a guide who gave us all the juicy history, from the station’s beginnings to Jackie Kennedy’s efforts to keep it from being demolished and even shared The Campbell, a “secret” lounge popular during the 20’s – the last one 🙂
The weather was very mild for late December, even at night. So we walked everywhere – east side, west side, and all around the town – including to the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Christmas Mass.
Not surprisingly, the church was packed, but thanks to Joseph’s initiative, we got a great seat – end of the pew on the main aisle.
We were right there listening to the beautiful choir sing O Come All Ye Faithful as the altar boys and priests processed to the altar followed by the well-known Cardinal Dolan. It was neat to see and hear, and the majesty of the moment wasn’t lost on me.
The Mass itself was standard for the holiday…until the homily. It was a short and simple talk. Yet, for me, it turned out to be the most meaningful sermon I ever heard.
Dolan started the homily with a cute story about his nephew, but quickly wound his way to retelling how Joseph and his very pregnant spouse, Mary, were told there was “no room at the inn.” So, turned away from everywhere, the couple ended up in a stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus. You know the story…me too.
Frankly, it was standard Christmas fare – until the Cardinal asked, “What about you?” He asked if we ever thought about making room in our hearts for Jesus, or had we been so wrapped up in the busyness of “doing Christmas” that we too were saying “no room.”
In all my years of hearing or reading that nativity story, I’d never thought about it that way. I never internalized it enough to ask myself “am I making room in my heart — or am I saying ‘no room here’ too?” It brought tears to my eyes then…and now.
For those of us who celebrate the meaning of the season, it’s a good question to ask ourselves, right?
Is There Room for Your Relationship?
However, the reason I want to share that story with you is this: You and I are at the end of a year filled with loss — so many kinds, and at all levels. It challenged us in ways we never expected. Many couples – even the most positive of couples and with the strongest marriages – discovered holes in the fabric of their relationships. And, for as much as you’ve been through this year, if you’re like me, your heart is struggling between being sad, angry, frustrated, and stuck in some lockdown-induced rut.
Yet there’s the promise of a return to normal sometime soon. It can’t be soon enough, right? What’s next?
While we’re waiting for the promised “herd immunity” you have some time to ask yourself, or think about – and maybe even meditate on – this question: “What can I do right now to open my heart so that, in the new year, I won’t be saying ‘no room’ but to be more open to love?” Figuring out that answer will change everything…
If both of you do it, then this will be a good time for you and your sweetie to talk together. Whatever difficulties your relationship went through, with open hearts, you can find the room to be more open to rethinking and resetting your relationship.
I wish you a fabulous Christmas and a wonderful holiday!
With love and in victory,