For many people, December 25th is a day for exchanging gifts, spending quality time with family, eating hella food for no apparent reason, and psyching kids out with that Elf on the Shelf craziness (where did this even come from???). To my fellow Christian folk, it’s a day to recognize the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (in the words of Brotha Kirk, “Santa ain’t got nothin’ on ‘dis.”). And for all my realist folk, it’s nothing more than a historical pagan holiday of merrymaking debauchery — Saturnalia — which the Catholic church adopted and simply renamed “Christmas” as an incentive for the Roman pagans to covert to Christianity (oh, y’all ain’t know that? Do ya research, boo).
Fun fact: Pretty much all of the Christmas traditions we know and love today (i.e. caroling, decorating Christmas trees, and even making gingerbread men) can be attributed to Saturnalia’s secular influences. In other words, the birth of Jesus ain’t got nothing to do with all this extra ish we be doin’. In fact, the celebration of Christmas was actually considered ILLEGAL by some Christians back when the holiday was first implemented. Just a little history lesson for y’all. But anyways…
For me, growing up, Christmas was about playing the Kirk Franklin Christmas album (over and over and over again) while my family and I decorated the tree. It was about hosting our annual Winters Christmas Eve party and having a great time with my family until the wee hours of Christmas morning. It was about getting everything I ever wanted, which was pretty much anything Barbie-related. And it was about not getting socks. From anyone. Ever. After I discovered Santa wasn’t real (I snuck out of bed late one night to find my mom and dad — not Santa — putting presents under the Christmas tree), I began submitting my Christmas lists to my parents. I’m talking pages on pages of all types of ish I wanted them to get me. And even though I knew deep down I wasn’t gonna get even half of it, writing everything out still made me feel good. Every Christmas, my sister and I would wake up hella early and rush downstairs to rip open all the presents that were nestled perfectly under the Christmas tree. Then afterwards, I would call all my friends to compare my gifts to theirs. This was an annual childhood ritual.
But as I got older, the Christmas lists began to dwindle and my perspective gradually began to change. I started to focus on my needs more than my wants. Then I realized that I already had everything I needed: family, food, clothes and shelter. It may sound cliché, but it’s so, so real. My evolving perspective also helped me to develop a newfound love and appreciation for socks (I can never have enough socks. If you give me socks, I will love you forever). And spending time with loved ones became more valuable to me than any material thing I could ever ask for. Now, Christmas is all about creating wonderful memories with my family and giving thanks to God for sending His son down to Earth to pay the ultimate price for our sins. It’s a time of reflection and gratitude for the endless blessings He’s bestowed upon my life, and the ones that He still has yet to reveal.
This Christmas, I received a few gifts that I really appreciate and cherish (a lil jewelry never hurt a sista). But over this past year, I received so much more: a sense of purpose, joy and inner peace, my amazing blog, a new job, an unforgettable trip to South Africa, priceless memories with my family and friends, and genuine self love. Sure, I had some tough times along the way, but they only helped me to draw closer to God and reevaluate certain areas of my life. Year 2015 has taught me so much about what it truly means to live, love and own my happiness.
And truth be told, that’s far more satisfying than writing some umpteen-page Christmas list of ish I may or may not get.