I woke up at 3am this morning from a bad dream, and now I can't go back to sleep. It was one of those dreams that you wish you could fall asleep again so the awful story would come to an end, instead of ending so abruptly. Ugh the tragedy!!

After making sure that none of the 4 channels on my TV are on at this hour, here I am back at my computer. With my new favorite hot drink of the season, hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick. Deliciously festive.

And I'm staring at my newly decorated Christmas tree (a plastic 3-footer sitting on a table) decorated in red lights with no ornaments as of yet.

I've been making a huge deal out of Christmas this year. I think that the craft-making and the decorating (although I don't have much to decorate with at this point) is sort of a coping mechanism for me. It's one thing that is familiar, one thing that is similar to how Christmas would be at home. But because I know that it'll never be the same, this season has taken a huge toll on me emotionally. I get myself worked up thinking about home and all that I'm going to miss. That if Christmas isn't going to be just like it has been for the past 24 years, it's a failure.

I need a kick in the pants. Hello...I of all people should understand that Christmas is not about the crafts, it's not about the decorations, or the tree. Christmas CAN be Christmas (and it is celebrated through most of the world) without all this crap. Christians worldwide (besides the Western world) don't celebrate Christmas with Santas and Elves and reindeer and chimneys because, frankly, that's not what Christmas is about! Most of the world doesn't have chimney's, anyway. The rest of the world doesn't care about eggnog lattes or Starbucks peppermint hot chocolates (with the peppermint sprinkles on top!!) And let us not forget that most of the world could live for a week off of the cost of one of these drinks, plus maybe a muffin.

But this is what Christmas is so often made to be. I think that people believe in the principle of Christmas without all of the stuff. Every year, people say that they want to cut down on the commercialism and celebrate what this season is really about. But on December 23, they're just as frantic as everyone else to get their shopping done, to buy the perfect last-minute presents. I have made it to be this way too, because I have made a huge deal about the "stuff". The stuff that Christmas isn't about. Even if I didn't put up a Christmas tree, and even -God forbid - if Starbucks didn't bring out their red cups this year, Jesus still would have been born. Thank God. And thank God that the rest of the world doesn't depend on these things to celebrate the birth of Christ like we do. I don't think Jesus drank his hazelnut lattes out of red cups.

So what can I do this season? What can I do to make sure that Christmas isn't depressing, and that I don't miss out on the Christmas that is celebrated HERE by wondering what could have been. It's going to be a day to day struggle for me, to intentionally get my mind off of home and into the present moment. To remind myself that here, Christmas won't be bad, it will just be....different. Reuben's mom works at a Childrens home and I get the chance to celebrate Christmas with his family and with the kids this year. How cool is that. Ok so these kids aren't my own family and my own nieces and nephews that I miss so much. But they, just like any child, need family. They need someone to celebrate Christmas with, someone to make those cherished Christmas memories with.

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." ~Edward Everett Hale

Part of me dreads Christmas but most of me is also excited to see what the holiday will bring. To, in my own little way, bring the focus off of the empty traditions and onto what really matters.

By the way, my cinnamon hot chocolate is delicious, particularly at 4:30am.

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