Growing up, my family (or should I say, my mom) was into Christmas decorating, big time. I mean, we went all out. One year we even got our picture in the paper for winning first prize in our city for best decorations. That was pretty cool. And exhausting.
Those were impressionable moments for me.
So, no surprise, as an adult, I faithfully carried on our tradition of holiday frenzy in my own obsessive ways.
Whether it was in our home or at our church, there was a certain standard lodged in my mind for how Christmas should be celebrated. Standard is the operative word here.
Big. Meaningful. Perfect.
For starters, the decorations should be abundant, elegant, and anything but ordinary. No Santas. Sorry. And why have one tree when you can have one in every room?
Your parties should be festive and lavish with lots of greens, games, glitter and candles, candles, candles and, whenever possible, live musicians.
And who needs the little town of Bethlehem when you live near mega theme parks, like we do? Is there anything more spectacular than a Disney Christmas Spectacular? So, you gotta go there.
Even if you don’t like to cook, (like me, the last person on earth who’s still pretty terrible at it, ) by golly kids, we are going to have fun baking and elaborately decorating a bunch of cookies.
And, because it’s the party season, and you don’t want to disappoint people you care about, you will also attend other peoples gatherings. You’d never arrive without a hostess gift so you add that to your already very long, personal and curated shopping list for family and friends near and far, the neighbors on either side, plus faithful ministry partners.
Then there’s last minute shopping. And I don’t mean the shopping you do when you forget someone. This is the shopping you do because whatever you already got them just doesn’t seem quite good enough.
Then you’ll need the perfect wrapping paper– trust me- this is a thing for some people- so, darn it, because there’s nothing acceptable at Target, Sam’s Club, Home Goods, Walmart or Walgreens, we are just going to have make our own. Go Pinterest!
You are definitely going to want to make a special memory or two or ten so you might borrow a bus and take your extended family on a city wide search for the best Christmas lights and, as a group, walk up to the door of the winner and produce a special award to a totally strange family from another totally strange family.
Be sure to add hot chocolate & carol singing along the route.
Giving is kind of the point of the season so you make time to serve and help folks and give stuff away.
You like sending real Christmas cards and they must be thoughtfully signed with a personal message, some years with a much longer, printed letter folded inside describing the super significant goings-on of your entire family and church— written with much humility.
And if you have anything to do with a church, like we did, you might have that thing going on of multiple Christmas services with many, many hours of dedication to the brilliance and passion of Christmas excellence —always only to the glory of God.
Believe it or not, there’s lots more where this came from, but you get the idea.
Ok, so you’re not as obsessive at Christmas as I have been. But we both know you have your own standards for how Christmas should be. What are they? Why do they matter so much? And does the doing of any of them cause you to lose your peace, take others emotionally hostage or mortally wound your loved ones?
No ones saying we have to curtail all Christmas cheer. But the time has come to reason with the season.
We’re going to have to lower our standards
if we want to raise our quality of life.
Is it legal to let up on Christmas? Can we let some good things go and still get the job done?
To try to control what other’s think of us is stressful. People are going to think what they want and it’s not really in our best interest to make changing that a priority. We really don’t have that super power anyway.
Can we free up our calendars, a bit, rest as much as we run, and release some of that need to please or perform or be thought well of? I admit it’s not going to be easy for me after decades of full on addiction but I’m coming to see this as a win for everyone in the path of my oncoming shopping cart.
Can we still be creative and fun without breaking the bank or our backs?
Can we tune into more of our being than all that doing?
And can we be more present to the ones we’re with instead of fretting over the perfect present?
How would it feel this season to not out run our souls?
I am going to give it a shot.
(My family has their fingers crossed.)
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.