Hi there. This is your yearly Christmas PSA.
How are you all hanging in there? …Good?
You don’t want to take a wire hanger to your ears because you have listened to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey 173 times, do you?
You haven’t wrapped your spouse up in Christmas ribbon and scotch tape, and shoved them in the closet have you??
I’m hoping that the answer to both of those question is “no.”
So, I know that people are always looking for a way to alleviate the pressure of the holidays. There is probably no other time of year that people need to take a load off something fierce, only to realize that they can’t because they promised (!!!) to make chocolate candy cane bark to take to their kid’s school party, or because they “volunteered” as tribute to organize all the classroom parents into giving their kid’s teacher a gift.
This time of year annoys so many people because we are SUPPOSED to be happy and cheerful and joyful and bright, but that is just not reality when you have six dozen gingerbread cookies to make for the luncheon at your church, but if it’s not then what the heck is wrong with you??
It’s not just because we have a lot going on. The truth is that often times, our day to day lives are stressful and ridiculous and depressing enough during any regular month or season, and suddenly, we are supposed to slap on a happy face and hang a piece of holly in our heart simply for the sake of it being Christmas.
A few years back, my dad was in the hospital at Christmas time.
And it wasn’t just that he was in the hospital. My dearest dad was dying. It’s too much to explain, but his health had taken a turn for the worst, and despite a lot of effort from his doctors, he was not turning around.
He is still with us now and I am so, so thankful with each day that he is. But a few years ago? The prospect was that we hoped he would still be here for Christmas after my mother gave the doctors the push to at least keep him with us until after the 25th.
If that doesn’t make a person feel “merry and bright,” then I don’t know what will.
While all of that was going on, everything about the season felt like a bruise for me. No, worse than a bruise. It felt like Christmas was a bandaid over a gaping would. The lights, the garland, the Christmas bells. All of it. It angered me. It upset me.
Because I felt hardly any joy, and I thought I was supposed to.
I have my Christmas truth. A baby boy, born in a stinking barn, laying in a feeding trough for animals, born to a mother who was most likely ostracized and at the very least the talk of the town for her unwed pregnancy, born to an earthly father who stuck by this young mother with unlikely devotion. Born to a world that needed him.
That is my Christmas truth. I need Jesus. And, there was no better way to recognize that need then for me to be honest about how I was feeling several Christmases ago. I was angry. I was depressed. It was real. But He is real.
Christ enters in anyway. In fact, that is why He did what He did in the first place. To give us hope. There was great comfort in that for me.
For my husband and I, encompassed in our Christmas message is acknowledging to our children the blessing that friends and family are to us, and emphasizing the need for us to do unto others, perhaps more than we do at other times of the year.
We like to make sure that we express to our children that it is the faces around the table that matter most in the world.
Perhaps that is not exactly your Christmas truth. I can respect that.
But with every activity you are involved in, every event you feel pressured to attend, ask yourself this question: it is necessary to your Christmas truth?
Having small children has made me realize that I can’t be all things to all people. It has put into perspective for me that there are times in my life, seasons if you will, where I will have to say “yes” to new, different things and “no” to others, even some we might have said “yes” to in the past.
Yes to getting our shopping done early, and utilizing the heck out of my Amazon Prime subscription in lieu of actually going to the store. Yes to crock pot dinners and nights at home. Yes to making sure we have lots of nights tucked in with our children, watching Rudolph. Yes to making sure we are in church on advent Sundays.
No to some of the events my church, kids’ school and friends offer. No to organizing the class Christmas party, but yes to volunteering to bring in one container of orange juice per child next Wednesday. No to making sure we participate in every Christmas activity we are invited to, even if it’s something that feels really, really hard to pass up.
My Christmas truth is recognizing what Christ did for me, and making sure I have the chance to actually savor this season with my family. While we have lots of traditions that my young family holds very dear to our hearts, a lot of what we do centers back to Christ, even if only as a short bedtime story at night before bed because it’s been a long day.
We try to focus our overall message and most of our activities around that truth. If what we are getting ourselves into takes away from the message or isn’t focused in some small way around that message, then whatever it is is negotiable.
How freeing it is when you realize that you can actually say “no”??
And for some of us, having babies in diapers or with early bedtimes is the perfect time in our lives to say no, not this year, while also saying yes, while they are still little, absolutely.
This doesn’t mean I won’t be weeping over a pile of still yet to be wrapped gifts on December 23rd. But it’s a start. And there is always Christmas cookies and spiked egg nog to take the edge off, no?