The Cray Cray of Christmas
Surely you’ve noticed that the Christmas season creates a lot of drama and added stress. In spite of the excitement…and maybe because of it…the holidays can be awfully draining.
Now, before I go any further, let me be clear: I LOVE Christmas! I love the traditions. I love the decorations. I love the lights, the presents, the food. Oh…the…food! Especially the sweets! But even more than all of that, because I’m a Jesus follower, I love Christmas because of its spiritual significance.
And yet…if I’m honest…Christmas can wear me out. You, too?
This year I felt the dread coming on me even before Thanksgiving. I refuse to do EVERYTHING around here. I’m going to insist that my family help out a little more. Either they help, or I’m not doing anything.
I’m pretty sure I communicated that rather kindly to my family. So, my husband and two of my kids agreed to take on the outside lights. Sweet! Meanwhile, my other son and I proceeded to put the lights on the Christmas tree.
Now, a little background information is necessary before we continue: For the last several years, our Christmas tree has had a piddly amount of lights. I’m talking embarrassingly minimal. Whole patches lacked adequate sparkle. So, I was naturally excited when I found a good deal on 300 lights. Surely 300 new lights plus several strands from previous years would be enough to make even Clark Griswold green with envy.
Graham and I began stringing them on the tree and quickly ran out with less than half of the tree lit. What? I thought they would go farther than this!! I grabbed a ball of last year’s lights and added them as well, but we noticed that a few lights were out.
Graham said, “Dad taught me how to fix this. Can I do it?”
As soon as he pulled off the bulb, half of the string of lights went dark. Panicked, he tried to jam the bulb back onto the strand. No luck. Now we had half the tree lit, half a lighted string, and only one more string of usable lights. I plugged the remaining string in, hoping and praying.
NO LIGHT! IT WAS DEAD! WHAT?????
At that point, I did what any rational, godly, screamfree mom would do. I slammed the ball of lights on the ground as hard as I could and yelled a few choice words that I probably shouldn’t repeat here.
Ah, Christmas, what have you done to me?
I know. I know. It’s not Christmas’s fault. This is my issue. But what’s going on? Why are tempers so short during this time of year? Why is it sometimes hard to simply enjoy the season?
Also, would someone please tell me I’m not the only one who’s had a psychotic break while decorating? Tell me my family is not the only one whose kids have gotten into a fist fight while taking Christmas pictures. Surely, some years, someone else’s Christmas letter should also read, “Life has been absolutely awful this year!”
Time plays a big part in some of this cray cray. Why do we think it’s even possible to continue with regular life (cooking, cleaning, work, school, practices, etc.) and add in four parties, shopping for gifts, wrapping gifts, mailing gifts, decorating cookies, decorating the house (inside and out), taking family photos, addressing/stamping all of those envelopes, etc., etc., etc.??? Have we all gone nuts?
And then there are the unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves and others. We long for great relationships, but family get-togethers rarely fail to bring out some serious crazy. And why do we think that kids can handle the increased stimulation, not to mention SUGAR, without an occasional meltdown?
So…what are we to do? I’ve considered hightailing it to the Caribbean for the entire month of December next year, but something tells me that won’t happen. So how about we all take a serious look at what traditions we REALLY want to continue and which ones we’re willing to forgo? Let’s find ways to involve the WHOLE family in all aspects of the holidays — cooking, baking, decorating, wrapping. And if we do THAT, we need to lower our expectations. We have to ask ourselves if we really want everything perfect, or can we simply appreciate the fact that we didn’t have to do it all? Surely, if we calm ourselves down, lower our expectations, and lessen our load, we can find ourselves enjoying the season.
And if you find any lights on clearance, let me know.