The past two years I was not at home with family to celebrate Christmas. Last year I sat on a basement couch with the hairy beast of a dog I was sitting, watching While You were Sleeping and downing cheap red wine. The year before I was in Africa, toasting the holidays with a multi-national crowd - temporary friends brought together more by circumstance than choice.
This year I went home to Saskatchewan - but instead of traditions seeming more important for having been missed, they seemed less so. Perhaps it was the recent passing of my grandpa; it's as if the trunk of the tree has been felled and its branches are scattering - though I have always been the branch that grew long quickly and stretched away from the others. I go back now, acknowledging our common roots, yet still feeling the distance of space between us. I am hesitant to get tangled in the thicket of the other inter-twining branches.
So I didn't go home expecting or even wanting large festivities. I did not have any illusions that a date on a calendar would magically mend family rifts. And over the years presents under the tree have dwindled in number and size, so I did not fantasize about what Santa would bring me. I simply hoped to have some lazy time to build puzzles, introduce V to some old haunts, sleep-in each morning...
I've learned that the best way to avoid disappointment is by keeping my expectations low.
Yet my low expectations were exceeded in many ways. I was surprised and blessed by the comfort of simple pleasure. By old friends and open doors. By supporting arms and moments of grace. Santa may not have been so generous - but others were surprisingly so.
In other ways my low expectations were justified and, by not wishing for more, I was able to see how little there really is. I know more clearly now what I am fortunate to have, as well as what I do not need to chase after. This is freeing.
So this Christmas I am so very grateful for those who have blessed my life with their love, support, encouragement and friendship. I truly am blessed. Thank you.
Merry Christmas each and everyone.