Its pages are tattered, its cover held together by masking tape, and its corner missing where our dog took a bite. Despite these shortcomings, it's a cherished Christmas treasure. Growing up, my mother would unpack that Christmas Ideals Magazine as soon as Thanksgiving was over, and only put it away after the decorations were safely returned to their boxes.
The beautiful illustrations and pictures caught my attention as a child, certainly, but it was the stories that captivated me. "The Juggler of Notre Dame" and "Annie's and Willie's Prayer" were two favorites. Now decades later, I can still recite stanzas from the later, a poignant poem that always makes me tear up when I read it.
Each year, I look forward to bringing forth that magazine. Not only as a reminder of the stories my mother read to me on the weeks building to Christmas, but as the beginning of the Christmas season and the start of the season-readiness process. I don't need to read the stories anymore to evoke their warm memories; just seeing the tattered magazine triggers the love of Christmases past.
These stories and many like them are part of me, woven into my personal Christmas DNA fabric. The warm-hearted movies my husband and I watched with our son each Christmas are embedded in that same tapestry - movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street" or "A Christmas Carol" now serve to snap me awake during the hectic pre-Christmas rush, reminding me to pause when writing Christmas cards, buying presents, baking cookies, and decorating the tree, to consider the reason behind these sometimes frenetic actions.
Then there are stories told and shared about Christmases past, often exchanged as the holiday nears. Whether they're stories from childhood Christmases, parenting Christmases, or extended family Christmases, they remind us who we are, illuminating times shared with those we love, and reaffirming for us what, in the scheme of things, really matters.
These are stories that make us laugh or cry, that enable us to open our hearts just a little more, connect a little more, and remember a little more why it is that Christmas is about love. Like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, we can each grow our hearts bigger with the stories we share, the love we extend, and the memories we renew.
In the scheme of things, there is THE Christmas story, and then there are the Christmas stories of our life, our family, and our friends. Each in its own way nudges us awake, giving us pause to savor the meaning of Christmas, the power of love, and the bond between family and friends.
No matters the holiday you celebrate this time of year, the richness of the season is enhanced by the stories shared and remembered. In the spirit of all that is love - pause, remember, and share your stories as you weave a holiday tapestry of your own.
(c) 2013 Nan S. Russell. All Rights Reserved.
Nan Russell is an award winning author. Her fourth book, Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture that Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation is out in November 2013. More about Nan and her work can be found at www.nanrussell.com. Sign up to receive Nan's free monthly eColumn at: www.intheschemeofthings.com