As the family organizer, December brings a lot of extra chores my way: planning, shopping, wrapping, and baking. Sometimes I have struggled to find and balance the real meaning of Christmas vs. that commercialized version being pushed at us all the time. More than once, I’ve caught myself muttering, “Where’s my Christmas?”
Last night, I stood and looked at our Christmas tree, taking in the lights and memories, and felt myself drawn back to the Christmases of my childhood. What I remember most isn’t the presents received.. it’s the genuine excitement we felt. We spent weeks preparing for our roles in community and church concerts and counting the days until all that glorious time off. Receiving presents and having Santa visit was thrilling, of course. We filled our days off playing playing Crokinole and Monopoly and watched admiringly when our parents dressed up for evenings out with their friends and siblings. We popped popcorn and made fudge, sang along to holiday tunes and helped make special treats. When the weather permitted our parents booted us out into the cold winter sunshine to build forts, skate, ski and sled our days away. And when we returned, stamping the snow from our boots, we were met in warm kitchens by welcoming Mothers. We had their time and lots of it. And we had yet to learn that not all children are as fortunate.
Now, I find myself bombarded with messages telling me the only way to show others how much I care is to buy stuff, stuff and more stuff – and by all means go bigger, shinier and more faceted! Every Kiss begins with Kay! STOP IT! In the interim, friends are traveling considerable distances to spend time with people who hold grudges and won’t speak to them; they’ll endure long days, cramped quarters, rich food and fast food and they too will wonder, “Where’s my Christmas?” And when the financial stress and fatigue takes over, cracks will appear and loneliness and longing will sneak in. That’s when most of us will realize that the MGM version of how holidays are supposed to feel has just been one big Hollywood lie. Eventually, we learn the truth: sometimes spouses disagree, children whine, relatives carp, flights are overpriced and no one will ever really appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into making their holiday glitter.
Every year, I resolve to pull back on how much I do for everybody else so as to allow a little room for me. Why? Because when I’m stressed and tired, I’m more likely to resent it than I am to roll in it. I’m making room for what I really want and that cannot be boxed, wrapped or shipped:
- A lunch date with good friends to eat, drink and be merry.
- Afternoons with my books and old dog curled up next to me.
- Mornings for coffee, blogging and blog-following.
- Sledding days and cozy times with the grand kids.
- Meandering conversations with the boys and daughter-in-law as we play Yahtzee and Crokinole.
- Days to sleep in, nights to stay up and stand .. with noses pressed to windows, watching snowflakes twirl, swirl and fall to the ground.
- And evenings saved for fireside chats with hubbs.
Mom & Dad always told us that “Children spell love: T.I.M.E.” I’m beginning to see that I still spell it the same way.
What do you really want for Christmas?