This entire series has been a challenge for me. Mostly because I want to get to the good stuff-the party.
I want the lights up, the tree decorated.
I want Michael Buble crooning on the stereo and cider warming on the stove.
I want to wear my red apron and pull shortbread out of the oven while the kids come in from sledding and skating.
I want the Norman Rockwell cozy perfect little country Christmas card view of life.
But I know that this scenario I have dreamed up in my mind only happens once or twice in a lifetime and the rest of the time it’s a lot less rosy. A ton more work. More expensive, time consuming, exhausting and trouble than anyone ever appreciates.
So how do I let go of that and still be merry?
Stop with expectations. Quit trying to please all of those imaginary people that you thought you had to be creating this masterpiece for. They don’t exist.
About 9 years ago, we came to the realization that going ‘home’ to one of our parents’ for Christmas was not going to happen. We couldn’t afford it financially or time wise. 8-10 hours drive time one way with 4 kids under 10 in a vehicle that was less than trustworthy was just not an option.
That particular year we had no snow to speak of in December. In fact, as the day drew nearer it became quite clear that we were not going to have a white Christmas. I was a little sad and I admit it affected my mood in planning a fun,happy Christmas experience. I immersed myself into the preparation of the Grand Pooba of all turkey dinners. I was determined that turkey,stuffing, 2 kinds of jello, 3 side dishes, 3 pies, 10 varieties of cookies and countless other non-essentials would result in a ‘Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night’!! Ummm….not so much.
You know what happened? The kids behaved the same as any other day, no one’s hair was combed as I was clearly busy with much more important things like sticking my hand up the nether regions of Tom Turkey, husband was watching sports and oh…..one tiny little detail: +15*c outside!! That’s like summer! The kids didn’t care that it was Christmas, they just thought it was hilarious to be outside with no shoes on(and apparently not much else for the youngest two), they were jumping on the trampoline, screaming like wild chimpanzees after too much watermelon. My kitchen was hot, I was tired and no one cared. When I finally was ready for our family postcard moment at the dinner table , I think my exact words were , ” here, sit down, shut up and eat and then go play where I can’t see or hear you.” Ahh yes. Mother of the year moment right there. Precious memories those are.
Makes me wonder what the heck I was thinking?? Do we really need all the things, symbols, baggage and work that have defined our holidays for so long that we have forgotten the wonderment of being like a child? My kids never asked me to go the trouble that made me into the deranged mommy dearest of Christmas 2003. I perpetrated that fiasco all on my own.
Expectations. Let go of them.
Plans. Be willing to change them.
Traditions. Allow them to take a vacation once in a while.
Dreams. It’s okay sometimes if they remain only in your heart.
Christmas. Shouldn’t overwhelm you.
I realize I have given you many ideas on how to redeem Christmas from what it has been to what it should be. But even the most well-intentioned efforts in the most noble of circumstances will be overwhelming if we don’t place the right perspective onto what we each can handle. I don’t know of anyone who can volunteer at church,school, homeless shelter,senior’s home plus bake for neighbours, sew gifts, write letters to sponsored children, fill shoeboxes and go carolling all in the same season without getting overwhelmed. So don’t. Don’t do any of it ….if it makes you cranky, tired, miserable, impatient, reluctant, …..joyless.
Just. Say. No.
In order to be a blessing you can’t be overwhelmed or stressed. So if your blood pressure is rising and you are avoiding your phone, it’s time to say “no”. Don’t save the worst of you for the ones you love. Give them the best of the blessed part of you:The part that has filled a need, fed some souls and some bellies but who, in the process has been filled.