As the year draws to a close and December creeps in I have to fight the urge to approach Christmas armed with lists. Lists that come with feeding people, gifting people, organizing people, cleaning things for people and having people in my home.
This year I’m asking myself:
What gift do I need to give to myself so that this season remains a gift to the people in my home and who come to my home?
I’m thinking about the gifts of grace, time, rest, balance and fun. The gift of remembering that imperfections can put people at ease, and reminding myself how I feel around people and homes that appear perfect (hint: self-focused and generally crummy).
I need to remember that my family catches whatever attitude I set. So if I’m all overwhelmed and worried and frantic and barking, then I shouldn’t be surprised when everyone else is too.
I’m letting some things slide this year, so that Christmas is more enjoyable for all of us.
This year for the first time in my life, drumroll please…we have a pretend Christmas tree.
No one ever told me a pre-lit, pretend tree looks great out of the box in about 3.5 minutes.
I almost cried once it was up. Somehow every year, I end up being the person who puts the lights on the tree and the person who makes hot chocolate and or chili while the tree is going up–because it’s a tradition.
I’m also the person who takes everything off the tree and packs it away–not because no one will help, but usually I get the urge while everyone is back in school and away–another tradition.
The gift of a pretend tree this year takes away a lot of work for me and leaves nothing but enjoyment! No needles, no guilt because it’s not being watered, no smell of evergreen (I didn’t say it was all great).
Somehow over the past twenty years, some fun traditions have turned me into a slave. Feeling like a slave to a Christmas tradition is a major red & green flag. The very moment a tradition exhausts, guilts or overwhelms me, is the moment I need to evaluate it. Christmas isn’t about traditions, it’s about life and hope and wonder.
This is my gift to myself.
Not because I longed for a fake tree, I simply longed for less rush.
Sometimes giving a gift to yourself has a cost to others. Our youngest is thirteen. After the fake tree was up for a few days he gave it a weird look out of the side of his eye and asked “when are we REALLY gonna get our tree?”.
The truth is, he would prefer a real tree.
The truth is, I would prefer a real tree.
The truth is, we would both prefer elves come in and decorate and cook and clean for us for the rest of the year.
I’m not going to fall into the trap of thinking that I’m going to emotionally scar my son because we don’t have the exact same kind of Christmas tree we’ve always had. It’s okay. Christmas isn’t about the tree–and I’m reinforcing that truth by changing it up.
A happy, rested mom is much better for him than seeing a real tree in the corner surrounded by a pile of needles I feel guilty about not cleaning up.
I know this is the season when the weary world rejoices. But we don’t have to choose to be perpetually weary and worn out. It just seems wrong to wear ourselves out for Christmas Tradition sake.