I was sitting in what used to be Thomas' nursery (which is now a really cozy sitting room we love to hang out in) watching the 3D episode of Medium(not worth the hype - a good episode, but the 3D was an unnecessary gimmick) when I had a little epiphany.
It was during a commercial for an electronics store. The spot showed shiny happy people getting shiny, expensive gifts on Christmas morning - a whole family of them. They were just beaming, these lucky present-getters, at all the things they'd gotten. Each of them held up their special gift - a CD player here, a computer there - while all around them lay a frenzied mess of torn paper.
It was a typical Christmas morning scene, but it just seemed so wrong for some reason. After 35 years I think I finally get it. I mean, not that Christmas gift-giving is wrong, but the obnoxious gifting hype that pushes people into the kind of over buying that throws them into debt is wrong. It's so wrong. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas.
I realize I'm not reinventing the wheel here - and I'm sure everyone who reads this will be puzzled by how slow on the uptake I am. The thing is, I knew all this, but only in theory. I've always happily gone along with the PC "it's the thought that counts" notion, but I didn't really understand it or perhaps appreciate it until now. I thought I understood it, but it took losing my son for it to truly sink in.
He was a gift. His life - all 9 months and 20 hours - was the most precious gift I could ever hope to get. Life and love - those are gifts that mean something. Life is what happened on that very first Christmas and love is the reason why.
I'm running the risk of getting extremely religious on myself. Me, of all people, the girl who still struggles almost daily with God and his strange way of giving and taking.
I'm not about to whip out my bible and start thumping away. I promise. It's just that I'm suddenly saddened by what Christmas has turned into - by the fact that so many people have forgotten what it means or why it's celebrated at all.
And I'm just as guilty as anyone else.
This year my sister-in-law suggested that instead of all the kids getting each other gifts, we do something for charity. My Beloved and I were very excited by this since we're almost pathological in our desire to find ways to do good in Thomas' honour. Today I fulfilled that promise to his family and did what she suggested. I can't talk about it just in case any of his family actually read this, but the point is it felt good. We're still buying presents for the children and for My Beloved's parents as well as for my family - it's not that I'm suggesting anyone outlaw gift giving. In fact, to be honest, I'm pretty damn excited by the fact that I suspect my Mom and Dad are getting me a KitchenAid Mixer for Christmas. It's just that shifting the focus and finding ways to do things for other people just feels really, really right now, especially at Christmas. More right than it ever has before.
I'm not asking for pats on the back. It took losing my son for me to open my eyes, but I'm so glad I am seeing things in such a different way. It's a whole new world.
As all these thoughts were rolling around in my head, I started thinking about how much I want to have another child. I mean, I've wanted that for a long time, but I really want to be able to share the gifts that Thomas has given to My Beloved and me with another child. I wonder how different his/her life might be than Thomas'. He/she will, after all, have very different parents than Thomas would have had he lived. We would have been loving parents - and good ones too - but everything is so different now and we have even more to offer another baby. I'm sure of it.
All because of Thomas.
My God, he was magic.
I hope this post doesn't sound completely obnoxious. I'm not saying giving or getting material gifts is wrong - it's right and good and special, and a tradition I will hopefully be able to pass along to our children one day. I guess I'm just saying that somehow the true meaning of Christmas snuck into my head and my heart in a way it never has before. And I'm glad.