Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking Back Christmas

*This is something I had published a year or two ago, but I thought it might be nice to share with you now, just in case the pressures of the commercialized Christmas are getting to you. Sometimes we forget what it's all about. I'm awfully glad I remembered. :) *


The written word is my best friend and yet the ability to convey the depth of my love of the Christmas season eludes me. I am the sentimental fool who cries each and every time that little bell rings and Clarence gets his wings. I admit to getting teary when I hear Linus read the Christmas scripture on A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The day after Thanksgiving begins my celebration when I erect the first of my five Christmas trees. The weeks that follow are spent in the kitchen baking the dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies that I hand out to friends and family.

But best of all, every night of December my children and I wind down by curling up together and reading one or two of our favorite Christmas stories. I wouldn’t trade those magical, wonderful times for anything in the world. But once upon a time, they did almost get lost in the shuffle.


It happened a couple of years ago. I knew it was spinning out of control when the approaching shopping season filled me with dread. There is something less than endearing about maniacal bargain hunters who are willing to use elbows and shopping carts as lethal weapons in order to make their way to that well advertised deal that awaits them in the toy department. I’m definitely not a last minute shopper, but I also never saw the appeal of shopping before sunrise on the day after Thanksgiving. I really do enjoy being out and about amongst all of the holiday decorations, carols playing in the background in an attempt to boost the Christmas spirit and encourage one to part with those hard-earned dollars. It just loses a little of the magic when an evil-eyed, credit card wielding woman is willing to cause bodily injury to anyone who gets between her and the last Tickle Me Elmo on the shelf.

Things were out of control at home, too. Families grow and things change. Often difficult to accept, and even harder to remedy. We used to all get together; brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, parents and grandparents. Each of us would buy a present for all the others and Christmas Eve was an evening of family, food and fun, with a healthy dose of chaos thrown in for good measure. Then the kids grew up, got married and had kids of their own. Scheduling conflicts became the norm. Before long, that healthy dose of chaos became an overdose of pandemonium. The hurrying and preparation were too much of a strain and the stacks of bills too much of a pain. Who can possibly enjoy something that you spend the next three months trying to pay off?


For my little branch of the family tree, it was time for some pruning.

My desire for a little less “What’s that worth?” and a lot more peace on earth began to win out over the whole commercialized extravaganza. Now I’m finding my way back to enjoying Christmas a little more the way it used to be and a lot more the way I think it ought to be. We still give gifts to the immediate family, but nothing extravagent or expensive. Instead, we opt to give Christmas to a family who might not otherwise have much reason to celebrate. It is a wonderful thing to open a beautifully wrapped gift from a loved one, but it doesn’t compare to the feeling you get when you put a smile on the face of a stranger. It was something my daddy taught me years before and I had nearly let it slip away.



I’ve decided that these lessons I’ve learned should benefit my children now. I don’t want them to spend years chasing down the perfect Christmas. I do want them to understand that it isn’t the hustle and the bustle, but quality time with friends and family. It’s not who gets the best gifts, but the birth of a baby who was the ultimate gift. After that, it all just falls beautifully into place.

This holiday season, do what makes you happy. And may you discover that the joy is indeed in the giving.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Kelli! Thanks or leaving the sweet comment on my blog. You're a wonderful writer - what a great post! My life sounds a bit like that. We decided to simplify Christmas a few years back as well. Enjoy the season!

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  2. Such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. You have a very nice blog--I will be back to visit :) Karen

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  3. Great post, and It is so true! I think christmas has gotten way out of control, and it needs to change!

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  4. I loved reading this post and I am in total agreement with you on everything. We celebrate very much like you. One of the changes we have made is several years ago we started playing Dirty Santa at our family get togethers and we have so much fun doing so. Now intead of 10-15 gifts we only have to buy 2 (my husband & I); everyone saves. As a family we value our time together, you never know who may be missing from the fun the next year. Thanks for sharing this and I look forward to reading more. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Blessings,
    Elizabeth

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