It seems like every year the rush and expectations of “being ready for Christmas” gets me a bit frazzled. Well perhaps more than a bit frazzled – sometimes I can be like a woman at war !
I have far too many expectations of Christmas. I expect that I will do baking and it will turn out beautiful. In fact, I think that my baking will turn out just like those Pinterest or cookbook pictures and am usually disappointed. I want the right gifts ( in equal quantities and costs for each of my grown children ) and the perfect gift for my husband. I want my house to be decorated “just right” and then am disappointed it doesn’t seem to look like those pictures in Style at Home magazine. And I always think I will entertain and have a Christmas open house and that never happens. I imagine the perfect Christmas Day dinner and everything about that day being special.
I used to get quite disappointed that decorating the Christmas tree never became a family event with Christmas carols playing, everyone in a great mood and everyone decorating and enjoying all the memories of each ornament. Instead I often found myself decorating alone after the guys did the lights, with my rum and eggnog and the blare of the TV in the background. Not a Martha Stewart moment at all. I gave up on that dream and try to appreciate all help no matter what it turns out to be. Perhaps that worked, or perhaps the year of the broken leg where I did the entire tree, reminded my husband and I that it goes easier with just a little help.
I usually rush off to Regina on a busy shopping Saturday to buy it all in one day, trying to juggle lists and make sure nothing is forgotten. Exhausted I return home, laden with parcels and then the wrapping begins. Many years you could find me wrapping at midnight Christmas Eve. One year I lost my car at West Edmonton Mall so I wandered around the mall carrying this enormous load of bags and boxes, before discovering that I was at the wrong end of one of the biggest malls in America. That was probably one of the worst shopping fiascos.
So this year, I decided to chill a bit and hope that the preparations would not turn me into Mother Grinch who forgot how to look forward to the season. So this year the decorating actually did get done by both of us, and with Christmas Carols and eggnog, and almost equal participation – and yes, only a few arguments. Online shopping saved me a lot of money and that horrendous one day shopping blitz. It was so fun to see all the parcels arrive ( we won’t mention the one that I found out Christmas Eve had had not been ordered. It appears I forgot in my Black Friday shopping frenzy to push that final “order now” button ! ) The baking turned out almost like the recipe – the Christmas cake mighty dry, the gluten free shortbread a bit dark, but the butter tarts excellent. I was able to fret less about them…afterall I ate most of them myself ! We even spent a day wrapping gifts together. This was mostly a great experience.
But no matter how hard I tried, the rush still got to me, and that inevitable panic set in around December 18th. This year two of my children would spend Christmas with their in-laws so there was less preparation actually needed. So did it really matter if the house was spotless and the decorations all bunched together the way my hubby put them, and the cookies rather brown ? Probably not. .
In all the prep, and all the bustle, too often I forget the most important part of Christmas. It is not the the preparation or the perfect gift, or the food – but the real reason we do celebrate Christmas. When I say Merry Christmas I want it to be about the Christ child who entered the world, innocent and precious, willing to put His life down so I could have hope.
I think that Jesus would like us to celebrate his birthday with a big party, and delicious food, and yes, even with gifts, but He would not want us to think that the party is the reason, not His birth the reason to celebrate. I do know He liked family around, and enjoyed feasts and good times with the people he cared about. Therefore, the gathering of the clan becomes an important part of most people’s Christmas. I wonder, too, if we put Santa back where he was many years ago.. a fun tradition but not the only thing kids think about, whether Jesus might be okay with the original generous spirit of St Nick.
So as the tree comes down, and the decorations go into the box and the sweets are all eaten or frozen, I want to look back on this Christmas differently. I want to see it not as one marked by what wasn’t perfect, but marked by of the true meaning of Christmas and all my blessings.
I feel blessed that my son and daughter have found in-law families that love them and with whom they are comfortable. I am happy that my granddaughters have another Grandma and Grandpa who love them and were able to spend Christmas with them. I rejoice in that we all had another Christmas to enjoy. I am happy that although we were not all together all the time, some of Christmas week was celebrated with all of my immediate family. There are so many people who do not have that.
So next year, if you hear me complain, please remind me of the real reason of Christmas and all the blessings that don’t come from what we prepare. I am sure I will need the reminder.
And remind me that I eat way too much of that stuff I bake too please ??