On spelling

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?”

the boys’ hand-made ornaments make the tree memorable

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?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life | Tags: , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “On spelling

  1. This is a truth-filled post, MJ. Although I really don’t have any stress associated with Christmas, I long for a simpler time (re: my post today!). It just doesn’t seem that Christmas today is what it should be. I love your suggestions on how to make it what WE want it to be!

    • Thank you, Dianna. I am having less and less stress and (trying to have) more and more Joy! When I think back on Christmases past, what I remember most is the fun. I want more of it 🙂 Cheers! MJ

  2. I just LOVE this – the honesty, the perspective and that perfect question…where is my Christmas? Important to remember that we can claim “our” Christmas wishes by calming down some of the other stuff. Twice in the last few years, we’ve cancelled the present part of Christmas (financial wisdom dictated!) and just shared meals, games….time! Guess what – we survived! Actually loved it! Anyhow – LOVE this, and will keep in mind what I want over Christmas, as well as what I want to give to others!

    • Yes, you can most definitely claim your Christmas and your point about calming down the other stuff … well taken!! Thank you for reading, and Merry Christmas! MJ

  3. How refreshing to read and ponder. I gave up on Christmas a while back…when I wrote my “Crass Christmas Crowds”.
    Christ was not born in December according to theologians but in April and I try to remind people of this one belief.
    Christmas is for businesses to make money to make up for the money not made before the holiday season. It is purely commercial so why do we play? and pay? along with them.

    • I hear you, Linda, on the commercialism part. And I do succumb to some of it when it comes to fulfilling kids’ wishes (within reason) but my angst is generally self-created… and I’m learning to smarten up as I get older. Makes room for the joy to creep in 🙂 MJ

  4. I’m with you. The tree. The cookies. The fire in the fireplace, a good Christmas movie and lots of laughter is all I need. We’ve all agreed to give each other one gift this year, but grandson will get what’s on his wishlist. And he’ll get Skype with the tree behind us and the chance to put another ornament on the Advent calendar.

    • Isn’t it ever neat that you can Skype with him? Who would have ever thought we could do that?
      Yes … simplify and de-stress, that’s where I’m at. Thanks Georgette! MJ

  5. “Children spell love T.I.M.E.” I’ve never heard that before, but it is so true! Thanks for a thought-provoking read this morning.

  6. You are so wise. You’re able to appreciate all the wonderful things about the holidays while recognizing that some goals are just too lofty to be realistic and that certain unpleasantries are inevitable. I wish you everything you’re hoping for in your holidays. Enjoy your time with family and friends!

    • You are too kind, Terri. I’m not that wise but I suppose I’m smart enough to learn from my mistakes (( it takes a lot of time, apparently! )) and I’ve learned to “Jimmy Cracked Corn” the stuff that doesn’t matter and hang on to what does. Most of it doesn’t matter anyways. Thank you for your kind wishes .. same to you! I know you’ll have a happy, cozy holiday with your family and new puppy. Cheers! MJ

  7. GREAT spelling lesson

  8. Perfect! Some years I’ve been able to pull off a lot of the classic Christmas. But not every year. Some years MY heart just isn’t in it, although the externals may come together. I think those years have been a reflection of the hustle/bustle factor and the feeling that I make a lot happen that others take for granted. Thank you for distilling this so clearly. And I love the quote about time, that’s a great one to pass on to Stephanie for Riley’s benefit! ~ Sheila

    • Definitely worth passing on.

      Today, I saw a book for sale; you could record your voice reading “the Night before Christmas” and then a child could play it back. Neat idea for someone far away but it made me a little sad. I wondered, as I looked at it, aren’t people reading that story to their little ones anymore? Our version is worn out!!

      My heart is in it this year .. but in a slowed down, less manic way. Merry Christmas, Sheila! MJ

  9. I want Christmas like it was at my Grandma’s in the ’70’s…I can’t remember any specific present, but I remember gathering around my Grandad’s organ singing Christmas carols, and sitting at the “kids’ table” with my brother and cousins for Christmas dinner. I loved the “big” bulbs of the lights on my Grandma’s tree, and the star on the top. My Grandad made a wooden snowman cutout which sat next to the fireplace every Christmas…one of my aunts was thrilled to find that very piece at a yard sale years later!

    Thanks for making me remember the important parts of Christmas, MJ!


    • Oh you and me both. My cousins and I used to chuck olives at each other at the “kids” table. Shoulda been called the “brats” table! I loved the big bulbs that clipped on the tree, the worn ornaments and the angel on top of ours. Dad always waited and bought a “Charlie Brown” tree a few days before Christmas. We kids would bug him till he brought it inside. It was always such an exciting night when we put up the tree!!

      How wonderful that your Aunt happened upon your Grandad’s actual wooden snowman — wow. What’s that quote? “Coincidences are just God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

      Cheers Wendy!

  10. Bravo, MJ! As a Mom to two small kids, I appreciate the reminder on how to best show my kids I love them. T.I.M.E. I must say, we’ve been playing the game Trouble on a daily basis. I look forward to the days of Monopoly, Sorry, Stratego, etc.

    I like your Christmas wish list. I’d love to have a night where I can stay up late and sleep in the next morning. Seems I only stay up when I should be going to bed early. (smile)

    Thank you for this! Merry Christmas!
    ~ Lenore

    • Oh yeah, played a lot of Trouble, and now our Grandson has it. Fun!

      I encourage you to make your very own Christmas list — and write on it what it is you really want 🙂

      Cheers & Merry Christmas to you & yours, MJ

  11. I so relate to this. I am fortunate in so many ways, yet my heart hurts for the lonely and forgotten. Thankful for our youth group outreach to bring goodies to the widowed and nursing home residents (even if some of them find us a little annoying, haha!). Thankfully, for those who *know* Christ, there is the assurance that we are never alone. Thanks for such a sweet post, MJ.

  12. Sounds heavenly. I agree that the best part of the time surrounding Christmas is time. I have two weeks off work and all I want to do is spend time with my family, sleep, read, cook and hang out. That is the greatest of gifts.

  13. I want what Leah is getting for Christmas! Wow! I’m already behind and the parties begin next week. Shopping – none, so of course that means I haven’t wrapped anything since I don’t have it to wrap. Cards were purchased in South Dakota – they’re here somewhere. I hope I find them before Christmas. I have decorated and that’s nice. But the usual treats I start baking around this time of year are noticably missing. And yes, all I want – if I can’t have the two weeks off – is a cup of hot cider, a good book, healthy family and Peace on Earth!

    • I know what you mean, Renee. Here’s my tip: put what you really want – the hot cider, good book, healthy family & peace on earth at the TOP of your list … everything else will get done .. or not!
      Cheers!! MJ

  14. I have been dreading Christmas because of all the expectations I thought my friends and family placed on that day. When i left town last year…it was the best Christmas in a long time. I’m helping to shake it up a bit this year. Things don’t always have to stay the same.

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