I used to have mixed feelings about Christmas. There were parts I enjoyed, but also parts that stressed me out. As a person of faith, I wanted to focus on Jesus, but as a mother/consumer/normal person who lives in this century, that always felt difficult. The result was a scramble, overlaid with guilt. All those sermons, bulletins, cookies, gifts, cards . . . !
By the time Christmas came I couldn’t wait till it was over.
A few years ago I began to question my approach. I decided that the distinction between sacred/cultural was at the heart of my problem and perhaps it was unnecessary. Why couldn’t I just do both without feeling like there was some magical standard I needed to live up to? Why couldn’t I celebrate the sacred holiday, and enjoy the cultural festivities both at my own pace?
After that epiphany (if you will) I really took charge of the holiday and tried to be intentional about what I did and didn’t do. Mainly I needed to lose the overlay of guilt.
There are some things I’ve always loved about the holiday, but never got enough of. So I have tried to increase all of those: more sacred music, more silly Christmas music, a really great beef roast at Christmas dinner, lots of twinkle lights.
Perhaps more importantly, I have sliced off or minimized the parts of Christmas I don’t enjoy but felt some pressure to do: Christmas cards, cookie-baking, trips to the mall, ornaments on the tree.
I have tried to eliminate the things that made me feel lousy afterwards: no eggnog, no fudge, no staying in my pajamas all day because I’m exhausted when the holiday is over.
Case in point: our Christmas tree. That’s it in the picture. It came pre-lit and one of the strings pooped out when we plugged it in this year. See the blank spot? Oh well! I’m rather enjoying its whimsy.
Merry Christmas everybody!