In the past week I have: (politely) lectured a UPS employee for delivering the wrong package to my house (for the 14th time), yelled at my children because they tired of helping me stuff and stamp Christmas cards before we finished ten, fired a Santa Claus for our neighborhood party (it’s a long story), and barked at my husband that his favorite holiday cookie (Spritz) are way too much trouble to make (ok, they are, but I digress…).
I’ve already gained 5 pounds (ok, maybe more, but no sane person gets on the scale in early December) and I still have 6 different types of cookies and 4 holiday parties to attend. I’ve purchased inexpensive trinkets for every family member’s obligatory gift exchanges and I’ve changed my Pandora station default to fill our home with the sound of the holidays.
My tree’s been up since we finished putting turkey leftovers away and our stockings are hung by the chimney with Command Strips. I’ve finished off rolls of Mickey Mouse and Batman wrapping paper already but am no where close to finished with that big job. My kids have already lost the shepherds from the nativity set (though they may be hanging out in the more luxurious accommodations of my daughter’s dollhouse with Mary) and they know the true Christmas story, cold.
You get the picture. We are Christmas-y. And I am stressed.
I feel like I’m missing Christmas. I feel like my level of cheer (or lack thereof) rubs off on the whole family. And, I don’t think I’m alone. Every mom I meet seems to be on tilt and uses terms like, I’m “not READY” for Christmas to describe her current state.
Ready for Christmas??? What do we really mean by that? Ready for Santa to come? (Uh, he’s not real, y’all.)
I’m up to my eyeballs with all things Christmas. But the love, the joy, the peace…the true meaning…keeps getting lost.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my holiday happiness struggles. In fact, statistically, 45% of people dread Christmas time or have some level of depression during the holidays.
Here’s where I think I go wrong…Maybe you can relate…
1. I Get Caught Up In Consumerism.
I love sales. They are my drug. I guess you could call me a recovering shopaholic. (Lack of money and free time will put you in recovery.)
In mid-November I decide I am over all the stuff. There is nothing I need. I won’t even look.
Then it happens. The 6 inch thick stack of sales circulars in the Thanksgiving Day newspaper sucks me into its vortex. Soon, I’m marking pages and making a list of things that I don’t really need…but sure might like at an amazing doorbuster price plus an additional 30% off!
I head out to check “buying presents” off my list…Innocent enough. Then, I get distracted by things like towels. No one buys towels for Christmas gifts, but I could use new ones…look at this phenomenal price… A hundred dollars later I find myself with bags full of purchases for me, myself, and I, plus exactly nothing for anyone on my list.
But, never fear… I have a wallet full of Kohl’s cash and a purse full of store coupons. I can go back next week and buy more… and more…and more…and more…
By the first week of December I can no longer squeeze into my super-secret-present-hiding-place to retrieve a pair of shoes (yeah, it’s our closet). And, thanks to a host of effective commercials, by mid-month I’ve come full circle from telling my husband he doesn’t have to get me anything… to feeling a bit angry that he’s not going to “go to Jared’s.” (But there’s still time on that one, Dear).
You want it. You need it. You deserve it.
Is more stuff really going to make anyone (me included) happy this year?
I doubt it.
I find no correlation between joy and junk. Beyond that, I’ve gotten some really nice Christmas presents before but the thrill still only lasts for a few minutes or hours, just the same.
There’s this old Kenny Rogers’ Christmas song called “Homemade Christmas.” It’s about a family on welfare and sung from the dad’s perspective. “There’s no store bought gifts to open…but there’ll be Christmas just the same,” is the last line of the first verse.
Part of me longs for that. I think all the stuff robs me what should be Christmas. It weighs us down.
We live in the wealthiest nation in the world and although times have been economically tough for many, we are still relatively, extraordinarily well-off. I thank God for his blessings. And, at the same time, I wonder how much more meaningful and memorable Christmas would be if we didn’t have one of each of this year’s “must haves” under our tree.
I dream of a Christmas where instead of buying massive amounts of mediocre material goods to feed the insatiable monster of consumerism, we would spend time truly thinking about the who and the why of giving. What if we chose just one gift for each person but it was something truly meaningful that would touch or inspire them? What if we spent all that time and energy buying for children who didn’t already have dozens of toys to play with? What if…
This crazy drive to consume kills what Christmas is really about. And, it makes us miserable.
2. I Feel Pinterest Pressure
Ahhh…Pinterest…you get a lot of blame. I really don’t want to add to it. Sure, I’ve got 396 really great holiday treat and decor ideas pinned and I’ll probably be lucky to do 3 of them. (And, I’ll be thrilled if even one of them turns out to look like it does in the pin!)
I’ve got a handful of days left before Christmas and truth is, no one will know– but me– that I could have had a cool homemade wreath on my door or made the cutest reindeer and Santa hat hors d’oeuvres you’ve ever seen. Yes, no one will know that I could have done more Christmas crafts and cooking and concocting…No one… but me…
And, that’s the problem. I know I could have done more and, that zaps my joy. In some bizarro world I’m losing the “who has the best Christmas” contest…thus, I’m not measuring up to my own overachiever (and so completely unrealistic and unncessary) standards.
I wonder…would Christmas be better if I didn’t know what else I could or should be doing? Would I have a more joyful holiday spirit if I didn’t know–thanks to the wonders of Facebook– how super lame my $1 bin Target countdown calendar is as compared to my neighbor’s advent “action and adventure” wooden activities box (complete with daily gifts, stories, and scavenger hunts)?
Would I be happier at my own Christmas party serving store bought cookies if I didn’t know how many truly over-the-top ways there were to prove to your friends that you are some sort of holiday-food-making super power?
Does this line of thinking miss the whole point of finding ways to celebrate the holiday with your families, relax and have fun just being together…whether or not the outcomes are worthy of Instagram?
3. I Obviously Overschedule.
I know that I’m old enough to say no. I remember that at other times of the year when I apply the, “we can’t stay up late one night and then do something big the next day…” rule. But, for some reason at Christmas time all of that gets thrown out the window under the guise of “Christmas only comes once a year!“ Or, you can’t miss THE lights show (which of course starts way too close to bed time).
I’m even silly enough to feel a special sort of pressure to watch holiday Christmas specials at the time they are televised. Sure, I know we own the movie or could watch it on Netflix anytime that was convenient…and yet… it seems less “Christmasy” if we don’t watch it when it broadcasts.
Then there are all the parties… Sometimes I wonder if I would be doing people a favor if I didn’t have a Christmas party this year…(Maybe I’d be helping them out to not make them scour their house for yet another white elephant gift?)
I sabotage my holiday cheer by hoping that all the activity will cumulatively result in Christmas joy. But it just doesn’t happen that way. Instead, it results in cumulative fatigue!
The truth is, I love Christmas parties. I love the food. I love the “Dirty Santa” present-stealing game. I love that I have to figure out how to come up with an ugly Christmas sweater for each member of our family by this Saturday at 7pm. But, even though it’s Christmas I still need to prioritize. My children will be happier. I will be happier. Everyone will be happier if we aren’t burnt out by all the Christmas-y things we have to do.
I’ve got less than a week, but I’m hoping to spend these six days scaling back…not ramping up…for Christmas. I think my family will more likely cherish a Christmas that includes cookies cut-out from store bought dough, fewer but more meaningful presents, and more time at home just gazing at our tree than they will a Christmas with a holiday-stress-crazed momma. It’s time to stop the holiday madness and remember what we are truly celebrating.
How about you?
Do you ever feel like you kill your Christmas joy?
Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net