You would think I would be good at sharing Christmas by now; I've been practicing it since I was a child. I can put on a pretty convincing show of it: "It doesn't matter what day you celebrate Christmas, as long as you get to spend time with people you love." Sounds good, right? The truth is, it is still hard to have no family celebration on the actual day.
My parents divorced when I was 11, so the typical family-all-together-around-the-tree-on-Christmas-morning ended fairly early for us. For the rest of my childhood, I rarely saw my father on Christmas.
Continuing the family tradition, my first husband and I divorced when our sons were very young. Throughout their childhoods, Christmas was a time of negotiations: "When do you want to meet to hand over the kids?", "When will you bring them back?" My Christmas celebrations with my boys were frequently not on Christmas Day. I tried to remind myself that I had the pleasure of being with them almost every day, so the least I could do was to allow their father the joy of celebrating with them on Christmas Day. Still, I felt empty without them.
Now that the boys are grown and in relationships, I must share them with other families. The negotiations continue: "When will your family have Christmas?" "When can we have our Christmas?" I suspect it will become even more complex as they have children of their own. Of course they will want to spend Christmas Day in their own homes, so the little ones can wake up and rush to the tree. I can't blame them for that. It is the natural way of things.
I am still struggling, even after all these years of sharing Christmas, to be content with my own small celebration of the day: a prayer of gratitude for the birth of my Savior, and a mental recounting of all the many blessings I have been given. After all, it doesn't matter what day you celebrate Christmas, as long as you get to spend time with people you love, right?