My take on Christmas – I must admit I have a love / hate relationship. Not for the meaning of Christmas but all that it has become!
It makes me miss people who I loved to celebrate with. I loved making hard tack with my mom. As children, we pulled taffy with my Grandma and Grandpa Frazee. Christmas wrapping paper was reused every year at our home. It was cut off the packages and flattened out to use next year (the first year I dated Jim and I was gingerly taking off the paper they said to tear it and I thought they were crazy! I had never ripped paper before – seriously!!). The presents were hid in the attic and my brothers would have me be a look out so they could play with the Legos in advance. I remember… and sometimes it just hurts because my mom and Grandma, my rocks, are not here to see my children. I still have a million things in my home that have “To Sheri, Love Grandma Frazee” hand written in them. It will be our first year without Jim’s Grandmother… I may just have to eat a chocolate covered cherry in her honor!
It is the season when all the homeless, needy, poor, shut ins are remembered with gifts, cookies, and money. However, the other 364 days of the year we don’t pause to even think of them.
So, I have all of these memories of Christmas from my childhood, and wonder what memories my children will have. I am too afraid to ask Mary. Sam could tell you the gift he got each year. But, I lack on traditions here )= Every year I say it will be better and different. Sometimes Christmas makes me realize all the things I have robbed my children of because it is such a crazy season. So worried about making enough money to buy “the gift”. So rushed getting to the next event. The days of the month disappear and at the end I look back in a daze wondering where time went!
I worry about company and cleaning our crazy home that it is crazy the other 364 days of the year and I am acting like I just found out Christmas was here so clean frantically to try to impress people who may come to our house that will still not be impressed. (p.s I know that was a really long sentence but if you read it really fast and get out of breath that is exactly how it feels!) Either they will have mercy and look over my many flaws and love me anyway or they will focus on the children and feel the love that fills the walls or they will walk away knowing our house is still crazy, needs a paint job, and some things will never change. I still remember the year that Mary came down the steps so excited and said “Look Mommy, the elves cleaned our house!” That elf was some superwoman with a cape wanting everything hid for Christmas pictures that made it appeared “perfect”. But why does she come by just once a year?
The tree! Oh the years of the trees in this house! The first several years we bought potted trees so we could replant them. They are in our front yard to this day, despite the couple years that our dog dug them up in the pot to find the tree crashed the next morning. I remember the year of our miscarriage and I wasn’t putting up a tree. The church friends brought the tree from the church to our home. Steven Lint played the violin and we sang carols – I still cry when I think about the true love that went into that. I remember the year that I just used Grandma Frazee mini tree in the burlap sack put on a piano bench for Mary’s first Christmas. I was too busy to get a big one. Or even recently, the year I just went out and bought an artificial tree and ornaments with no meaning just to have a tree. While, in my boxes are stored away a village, ornaments from patients, and ornaments my mom painted.
It is the season when we squeeze in extra church programs, caroling, decorating, baking, Christmas parties for school / work / church. We squeeze in so much stuff that by the time Christmas comes we are exhausted. We have put on weight. We have drained our bank accounts.
Let me not forget shopping, now even on Thanksgiving. Looking for the perfect gift for people we may only talk to once a year. I have to delete about 50 emails a day about “specials” I must have.
It is the season when families should get together to just be together. But, it becomes a huge feast of more baking. We try to fit a date in the calendar when everyone can meet, and someone still can’t come, because our calendars are too full of “stuff”. Even worse, it becomes the one time I am reminded that our family can’t even get together for the time of the year we should!
I have a love / hate relationship with Facebook now too. I see all these people who have it all together and are ready for Christmas. It sometimes makes me feel guilty that I am not in that place. But, I have to sit back and realize how much I have going on in my life and know I am in a different place. At church they asked who was ready and I said I was because I could be ready in a day, if everyone removes their expectations and set aside mine and just celebrate the birth of Christ. I do have children, so would still like to get a few gifts, but I could be ready now. I could decorate a tree in our front yard and celebrate out there with a little bonfire and smores and family – then I wouldn’t have to decorate our home, bake cookies we don’t need, buy gifts just to have them. WOULD LOVE THAT KIND OF CHRISTMAS!!!
So enough gloom and doom, but I had to spill my guts and tears are on a special with me these days! As my friend Johnetta would say, first today I need to wrap a GRACE BLANKET around myself. So, I have resolved this Christmas to be INTENTIONAL and end 2013 with my word lived out loud!
I will be careful with events that are added to our family calendar. In fact, I have erased many. I will NOT be attending many extra functions – Christmas parties (except Jim’s work one – it is our yearly date!), extra school days out, caroling, etc. I will not be donating extra money at this time of the year, because this is the time of the year I have the least to offer. I will however, remember the charity in April or June, etc… when everyone else has forgotten them.
I will try to find the perfect gifts for my children, because I love them. However, I will not be worrying and ordering extra gifts because I am afraid I didn’t get enough (that is often my tendency and Amazon makes it too easy to order with 2 day free shipping). I have been intentional and did NOT subscribe to the newspaper this year. I did not look at Black Friday ads nor am I looking at the weekly ads to see what “I must have”. If I don’t look I won’t know and then won’t buy. I have done a few spontaneous purchases on Amazon, so I have stopped opening the site up. I have my list and I will be sticking to it and not consuming myself with constant intake of the “deals”.
Christmas is NOT going to be about my clean house. It is going to be about managed chaos, doing what I can do, and putting my time into memories and not impressions! So, if you are brave enough to come here, please call first… second, leave all expectations outside the door,… you may want to leave your shoes on for all the pieces of legos (they are dangerous to your feet and language)… and know you will be greeted with love.
I do have some things I really want to put special intentions into, but they are all negotiable and most can wait until after Christmas if possible.
I want to buy some little gifts for people in my life just because, but I have put that list in my tablet and will do after the first of the year. I will do it after the chaos of Christmas. Surprise them when the depression and the exhaustion of the aftermath hits. Send them when a hard winter day just makes it hard to get out of bed. Everyone is well taken care of Christmas. I want my friends to know I think of them through the year.
I had intended on a Christmas card this year, but that is not likely to happen as it hasn’t for many years. However, I will NOT be beating myself up. Instead, I think for Valentines Day I will send cards of love. People will have time to actually read them. I want to give more than just a signature in a card. I want to tell you about how blessed we are!
God is one of perfect timing.. I saw a picture of a stray German Shepherd pup up inside the manager at an outside nativity scene at a church (I guess the original story was from 2009) – the post read “We should all have the good sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus’ lap from time to time. No one mentioned that the dog breed is a “shepherd. So if you don’t see me at a function you thought I should be at, or a church service you thought I should be attending, etc… I want you to know I am being INTENTIONAL this Christmas. WHERE WILL I BE THIS CHRISTMAS??? You can find me curled up in Jesus’ lap, finding mercy, grace, and peace (the three gifts I want this Christmas)!
p.s. I have printed that picture for my reminder