Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Christmas Collage

Every Christmas season starts with the ratty little collage.

I made it more than ten years ago. I was newly married, but still lacking the confidence of how things were supposed to go. My collage was really just an oversized piece of poster board. It featured a quote I read in a book that spoke so loudly in my head, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Just like everything else in those newlywed years, I was trying to do the best I could and hoping things would turn out alright.

Christmas was always a slippery slope for me. For some reason, I couldn't shake the guilty childhood feelings of either feeling like I had too much or I didn't have enough. There never was a true joy about it. After I read this quote about Christmas, it changed for me. I wanted to wear this statement about Christmas, to walk around in it, to let it be who I was. Instead I did the next best thing, I made a collage out of it. With beautiful re-used Christmas cards framing my faded handwriting, every year this becomes the decoration I love best.

Here's what it says:

"If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each on of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life." -- Author Unknown

(an excerpt from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

For me, my collage and this powerful quote remind me of the point of Christmas. The trouble is -- I don't want to miss it. I want to attend all the great plays, hear all the awesome concerts, see all the lights, the parades and the parties. But in my heart, all I want is this quote. Year by year, my collage strikes me differently. Over time, I find myself seeing from a different vantage point -- whether it's from the shepherd's watch, the mom looking down on her child, crossing my own desert, looking for the stars. It always speaks to me and always reminds me.

The truth is I don't have to do anything, buy anything or be anything to have a beautiful Christmas. I only have to stop and notice all the beauty before me. And in that pause, to truly see the one star overhead.