One Angel and a “Fear Not”


For all you people out there who are busy hating Christmas, which means you are hating Christmas but feeling too guilty and ashamed to admit that’s how you feel.

And for all you people out there who are too darn busy to do anything but be busy. You cannot stop and breathe for one moment. There are too many things you have to do.

And for all you people out there who are alone, either by yourself or with others. Alone without the people you need to be with. Alone without family because—because you don’t know why, and you can’t talk about it because it hurts too much.

And for all you people out there who are poor and it’s breaking your heart that you can’t afford to do any of the Christmas things other people are doing.

And for all you people out there who are really sick and just want Christmas to go away.

FORGET EVERYTHING FOR ONE MOMENT.

The only thing God did to prepare for Christmas was send a single angel to say, “Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy.” That’s it. That’s all there is to it. God’s Christmas instructions: No preparation needed.

One angel and a “fear not.” No office Christmas parties, no Christmas cards, no decorated trees, no trip to see Santa Claus, no gifts, no Post Office lines.

Get this straight: God sent love for Christmas. That’s it. That’s all there is to it: Love each other.

God did not call you to be Martha Stewart: He called you to love. Christmas is about your love, not your dinner table centerpiece.

Love is the only thing that matters. Not the fruitcake that you get exhausted trying to make, not the homemade cookies or candy, not the hand-dipped candles.

God sent three people, one gift per person, to the baby they loved. The baby didn’t care. The baby didn’t need or want presents. God sent them so that when the story got told over and over, people would understand that this child of love was incredibly valuable.

When Jesus was growing up, his Mom never made a big deal about his birthday. She didn’t have a party, buy lots of presents and hire a donkey to give all the kids rides.

When Jesus was grown up, he never made a big deal about his birthday. No cards, no gifts, no going out to a restaurant for a dinner he couldn’t afford.

Christmas is about love. Dump everything else. Strip away everything that makes you tired, snappish, sad and depressed. Here’s the Rule: Nothing but Love. You don’t owe anybody anything. You don’t have to do anything because somebody else is expecting it. Really, you don’t. Otherwise, you’re just making a Christmas tree trimmed with orange peels, apple cores, burnt-out candles, broken decorations, and dripping candy canes.

Leave it all alone. I give you permission.

Now. Start by going to bed and sleeping, and going back to bed and sleeping every minute until you’re finally not tired. Then call up somebody you love, and love them. Only you and they know how you love each other.

For me, I just spent two hours sitting in the sun in a restaurant, drinking coffee and eating dessert with a friend. The love part was how we listen to each other. How we are sensitive to where each other hurts. How we share and celebrate the good news, and share and cry about the bad news, and share and laugh about the six o’clock news. Then we paid the bill, went out in the parking lot, and hugged each other. We hugged each other so tight and so long that there could be absolutely positively no mistaking that we love each other.

That’s Christmas.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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