“It’s the most WONDERFUL time of the year……”
Oh how I wish I could sing that song with the meaning it is intended. Instead I find myself in the same old Conundrum I face each and every December:
I love Jesus….but I LOATHE Christmas. (I totally stole that statement from a Facebook friend yesterday)
Christmas brings forth all kinds of feelings in me, and sadly, none of them are jolly. Stress, anxiety, regret, bitterness, and loneliness all seem to rear their ugly heads each and every year, beginning around Halloween.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally love the MEANING of Christmas. It is the wonderful day, the world received the most perfect of gifts, it’s Savior. But throughout the years, the true meaning as become less relevant to the world’s inhabitants.
Now it means, who can get their tree up the fastest, who can send out the most cards, and who can mark everything off their list first.
Remember when we used to wait in anticipation for Thanksgiving to be over? We knew that when we awoke the next morning the Christmas season would officially begin. Those 4 weeks leading up to Christmas were special. We ate on special plates, had special attire, listened to special music, and, ate special foods. The stores would be beautifully decorated, and folks would begin their holiday shopping.
The season is no longer special. Decorating begins before the Halloween candy is even handed out, and this year I received my first Christmas card on November 2nd! Hallmark began their Christmas movie-thon way back in October, and Christmas music has been blaring at the mall for what seems like months now.
I am on a complete and total Christmas overload.
Is nothing special anymore?
But that is only part of my issue with the Christmas season…..
Christmas reminds me, whether true or not, that I just don’t measure up. I am not poverty stricken my any stretch of the imagination, but I do live paycheck to paycheck. All my needs are provided, and every now and then, there is a little extra to splurge. But this time of year has me feeling a little like Bob Crachet from a Christmas Carol.
I watch as shoppers throw out huge wads of cash and swipe their cards, purchasing mounds upon mounds of gifts for their loved ones, while I pick and chose what measly little gift I purchase for my loved ones. They are always so gracious when they open my gift, but inside I cringe knowing how much more I wanted to do, but couldn’t. Then I feel even more deplorable when I am showered with such thoughtfulness and generosity.
It is a vicious and bitter cycle.
I miss those days when my sister and I were so excited to receive that one special gift, and could not contain our excitement as we stood in front of the family tree.
Or wearing the Christmas sweatshirts our mother made out of love that would be considered a Holiday joke now.
And does anyone get all dolled up for Christmas Dinner anymore?
There was one tree… and that was the family tree and it did not go up until the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving. It was full of tattered old ornaments, big bulky lights, lots of tinsel, and special treasures made my loving hands. Decorating the tree was a family affair. Ok… so there were usually LOTS of ugly words, tears, and a punch or two thrown, but we did it TOGETHER as a family. We would reminisce over Christmas’ past with each ornament we hung, and sit in wonder and amazement when we were finished.
Now there is a tree for every room. There are themed trees, girl trees, boy trees, upside town trees (which I TOTALLY hate), and trees that look like they should behind glass. Families rarely decorate together anymore. Decorators are called in, or one weary family member does it all. Now, I know that is not the case in all families, but it is becoming more and more rare. This year, I didn’t even put up a tree. It is just me and my dog, and the effort just didn’t even seem worth it.
My family is also considerably smaller today then it was growing up. People have passed on, grudges have won over forgiveness and understanding, and with the addition of my brother in law (whom I adore) my sister’s time is now split with her new family. Christmas Eve was always the special day for me. That is when we were FINALLY allowed to eat the homemade goodies, stay up way past our bedtime, and spend our time with our family. Sadly, now it is just another day. While change is always inevitable, it’s sting is sometimes everlasting and hard to swallow.
Now before you go on labeling me as a Grinch or Scrooge, please understand that I am in full support of the Christmas season and it’s true meaning.
The birth of a baby.
Not just any baby, but the baby that would ultimately go on to ensure that I would have each and everyone of my sins forgiven. Oh what a gift was given on that first Christmas! There was not fudge or sausage balls, blinking lights, or reindeer. But the magic and mystery were just as strong.
We have gotten away from what Christmas is all about….love. Instead, we try to outshine, out give, out bake, and out decorate. The beauty and simplicity that IS Christmas no longer shines through.
Maybe I am feeling a little like Charlie Brown, and need a little Linus to remind me just how beautiful the season REALLY is.
So dear friend, there you have it. My real life struggle with Christmas. My prayer for you this year is that you worry less about the decorations and presents under the tree and focus on the blessings around you that are always right there.
Here’s praying that next year I will feel a little more jolly, and a little less like this….