Thursday, January 7, 2016

Taking Christmas Back

I have a Christmas hangover.

It's 13 days later and I'm only now starting to unfold myself a bit after the marathon that is December. Is it terrible to confess that I'm so relieved that Christmas is over? I know that's probably some kind of sacrilege to say, because, obviously, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. However, I honestly think that if it had lasted even one minute more, I might have keeled over. 

Don't get me wrong. I heart Christmas. And I love this new season of sharing Christmas with kiddos. And yet, for the past few years now, I find myself feeling like I might not survive until January 1st. I've considered hiding out somewhere until it's over, but so far, that's not a teneble solution.

This year was especially chaotic because our refrigerator decided to stop refrigerating around 10 p.m. the night before Christmas Eve. I came insanely (key word there) close to round-kicking our errant fridge, but I refrained, because that would have been immature. However, I might have said a bad word (or a "cowboy word" as my mom refers to them) in place of the kick. And the fridge totally deserved it because it had BACON and EGGNOG that it was supposed to be safekeeping for me. #badfridge

Despite a cooler full of ice in the garage and nearly 80 degree temps outside, nobody ended up getting food poisoning on Christmas Day, despite my ominous predictions. A Christmas miracle indeed.

In our house, Christmas is bookended by Sam's birthday a week or so before and then Matt's birthday on New Year's Eve (which is a bummer birthday because everyone's having a party, but none of them are for you). So, our month looks like this: birthday party for Sam, birthday day party for Jesus, birthday party for Matt. In case you're wondering, that stuff will wear a mama out. 

I talked with a friend of mine this morning who is home on furlough from mission work overseas and she shared how she actually felt sorry for mamas in America during the Christmas season because of all the crazy that we have to navigate. Her description of their simple Christmas on the mission field sounded rather dreamy. Obviously, she missed her family and the imagined trappings of a Christmas at home, but the reality is that a lot of the good stuff of Christmas gets swallowed up by all of the STUFF. Her version reminded me of a Little House on the Prairie Christmas, when you were elated to find oranges and newly darned socks in your stocking.

Every year, I daydream about the quiet Christmases with my family growing up. We would sit around our piney-smelling tree after dark, lights twinkling, eggnog in our cups, and Vince Guaraldi playing in the background. It felt like there was loads of time to contemplate and wonder at the magic and the beauty of Christmas. 

And yet, I'm guessing my mom probably felt as run-ragged as I do now as a mom at Christmas, but she never let on and did such a lovely job of keeping things simple and beautiful and just enough, so that there was space for us to enjoy all the things about Christmas that matter.

A conversation with Matt a few evenings ago had me confessing to wanting to escape every December and he seemed a bit puzzled by my having felt so frayed over the holidays. If you know me at all, you know that I'm somewhat high-strung, slightly neurotic, and a raving perfectionist. So, he wasn't totally surprised at my having felt a little stress. But, the truth is that I felt more than just a little stress and I'm so over letting it steal my joy every Christmas. 

And so, here I am declaring that I want to take Christmas back.

I want there to be more time for thoughtful Advent readings, and time to ponder the beauty of the season. I need more quiet and less hustle, more intentional time with my kiddos and less errand running. I want to sit by our tree and read the Christmas story, unhurried, without the nagging feeling that there are five other things I should be doing. I don't want to worry about the budget exploding because we overdid it, trying hard to be sure we "got enough" for the kiddos. 

I want to be free of the commercials and the terrible, awful jingles that pass as Christmas music now. I need more Charlie Brown Christmas and less Justin Bieber holiday specials. 

I want more Jesus and less Santa and his creepy elves on shelves.

I'm not even sure I know how to describe the Christmas I long for every year, but I do now that it isn't what we're doing right now. 

So, I'm going to be mulling over this for a while, trying to navigate us away from the frenetic flurry of present-buying and party-planning and overdoing it. 

I don't plan on throwing out the tree or only giving my kids socks and underwear. But, I do want to include more depth in our family's celebration of Christmas. And I would love to incorporate ways to teach our kiddos to think about others during this season and not just themselves. 

I'm way open to suggestions. Who's living the Christmas dream out there? I'd love to hear how you're celebrating Christmas without the chaos. 


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