Is your home decked out for Christmas? Presents all wrapped perfectly every year? You wouldn't think of serving store bought cookies--the horror, they have to be rolled and cut and perfectly decorated. Christmas cards---done in calligraphy and out before the 1st of December to people you don't even talk to but once a year. Perfect goody bags and treats for your kids classmates and teachers. You have presents and homemade gifts for every person who you come in contact with, from the mailman to the receptionist at your Drs. office don't you? Yea---that was me! And guess what? I was miserable every stinkin' year. By the time I got to my sister's tree trimming party I was grouchy and tired and not very much fun. There was always an emptiness inside of me that I thought came because I didn't get any surprises. Yea, that's right I said it.
I LOVE Christmas! When I was a kid my brother and I would unwrap our presents from "Santa" and play with them and then wrap them back up with no one the wiser. (he taught me all his tricks so when he was old enough to buy me presents he would booby trap his room so I couldn't touch them). I would always feel that bit of disappointment on Christmas morning that I ruined some of the magic. Then as I got older my brother and sister would spoil me crazy rotten! I got so many amazing gifts from them and it was so much fun waiting for the time to open them. Then my boyfriends used to spoil me after that and the Christmas magic continued. It wasn't greed, in my defense, it was the excitement of not knowing what was in those boxes. It didn't matter what it was it was that anticipation. Almost like the having your first kiss every year--.
My family consists of thoughtful and loving people. We are always thinking about how to make other's lives happy or easier. It became almost a contest to see who could get me the most excited at Christmas. I was spoiled. Things changed when I met my ex husband. Christmas for him was more about getting things you need and not things you wanted. Luckily my sister kept my magic alive every year and once my nephew and niece came along the magic became making them the most excited on Christmas morning. That was magic for me in a whole different way. Then, my son was born. I converted my ex husband to the "dark side" of Christmas of want and not need. Luckily for my kids. They had and still have magical Christmases. Every single item on their list was checked off no matter what had to be done to do it. Seeing them on Christmas morning was my happiness. But all the extra stuff--the stuff I did for appearances (decorations, cards, cookies, gifts, goody bags) did not bring me joy. It only brought me stress.
I realized this year that when my daughter was born in 2003 was when I stopped getting everything done before Christmas. I just realized this year that it is because I wait until after her birthday to start Christmas stuff because I never want her birthday to be mixed in with Christmas. So instead of it all getting done Thanksgiving weekend (the decorating, tree, Christmas card pics) it was getting pushed off until after December 8th. So every year less and less got done. This year I did nothing. That's right, you heard me---nothing! Not one Christmas decoration is up in my house. No lights outside. No cards done. No presents for anyone except my family and my daughter's teacher (which I must admit I threw together the night before the last day of school). But guess what? I am FULL of joy and excitement about Christmas. Cookies were baked this year. Snuggling and movie watching occurs almost nightly. We went out looking at lights. I decided no full blown turkey dinner this year--it's BBQd steak, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole (I promised my 16 year old), the tree decorating was the most fun I can remember us having doing the task...EVER. And guess what? I'm sure they will never say "hey remember that Christmas when mom didn't send out cards or decorate?" I bet it will be, "remember that year when Mom just relaxed and enjoyed Christmas?" And isn't that what it's all about?
So, next year when you are stressing away trying to get it all done I want you to stop and think about it. Who is this for anyway? Is it really that important to anyone if the crooked wreath gets hung? If it is that important to someone then by all means do it! But don't rob your joy for things that you *think* are important just because you've always done it that way.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours <3