The stress-laid plans of…me

Column Post by Laura Hyers

I’m writing this post at work on my lunch break. Because it’s December, ladies, and that means one thing for me: I need to make this the best holiday season ever.

Like…ever.

No one told me this was expected of me, or even mentioned it in passing. My mom wasn’t obsessive when I was younger, even though my childhood Christmases were consistently amazing. And my husband isn’t needy or demanding; he actually doesn’t like most of the cliché Christmas stuff because so much of it isn’t really indicative of anything that Christmas is actually about, but that’s another story. I have all these things in my mind that simply must happen, and if they don’t, well…there goes Christmas. Or so I think.

I’ve cried over the last five Christmas commercials I’ve seen. But not the good, warm-and-fuzzy cry that I get with Thanksgiving commercials. I’ll tell you a secret: it was the ugly cry. Every time. Because I’m so sad that Target can effortlessly convince me that my family won’t be happy or feel loved unless I can get all the presents they want, presents they didn’t even know they wanted, presents they didn’t even know existed. But they need them, the television tells me – if you want them to feel loved, better yet, if you want them to love you when this is all over, you’d better get those presents, Laura!

Maybe I’m alone in this, this huge pressure that makes me hyper-sensitive, sends my list-making into overdrive, frustrates my husband with the amount of money I want to spend on him, and my parents, and my sisters, and my friends.

I hope for the sake of women everywhere that I’m not the norm—that you, lovely reader, are well-adjusted and stronger than society’s blaring commercials and bright shiny billboards.

But I don’t think I’m alone. I think we want to make the people closest to us happy and comfortable, we want them to feel treasured, we want to look back on this holiday years from now and have only the best memories.

And, honestly, I think that’s admirable, right? I want this season to be special. There isn’t much wrong with that statement.

But the things I think I need to do—I feel like that is where my pretty plan goes awry. I don’t have an endless amount of money for presents or decorations. I’m a preschool teacher, for Pete’s sake! I don’t have the time to cover my home in tinsel and holly and beautiful little flickering lights—at least not where I am in life right now.

So that’s where I am. Angry-weeping over commercials and stressing out about the decorations I don’t have and the side dishes or desserts I have to bring to this event or that one. I’m just thankful for the One who knows my heart, knows my intentions, and can whisper peace over me. He is so faithful, and He can redeem my plans.

He can redeem yours, too.

. . . . . . . . . .

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Laura Hyers is a Tampa native, writer, and the newly wed wife of musician Caleb. She recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in literature and is currently teaching preschool. When not chasing a class of two-year-olds, Laura is writing and fighting fierce bouts of wanderlust. She loves music, reading, being near the ocean, and dreaming big over huge cups of coffee with her best friend Lakin. Laura blogs at http://littlebirdmarie.wordpress.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

3 thoughts on “The stress-laid plans of…me

  1. I quit decorating about 10 years ago but I don’t tell people about it because they start making me feel like something is wrong me. I just don’t see the big deal in doing it. I am a normally happy balanced woman who loves God and is a giver ALL year. I resent the pressure of forced giving. I get your post.. thank you.

  2. Hi Laura…yes…you are right, (unfortunately) you are not alone. I have always blamed this on an experience I had when I was seventeen. My parents allowed me to marry at sixteen, and even paid for a pretty extravagant wedding. Of course it didn’t work out, and I was back home within a year. That first Christmas back home, they gave me one present for Christmas and my sister the usual extravaganza. I was hurt beyond words, and still remember where I was in the living room when I realized how different this Christmas was for me. Since then, I equate gift giving with showing love. I feel a strong feeling of guilt when I think one of my children will be disappointed. Strangely, I don’t feel this about my grandchildren…only my grown children. I think I know my grandchildren will be very well taken care of by their parents. My children have told me over and over they do not care about gifts. We love each other with our very lives, and no one has to prove anything about that. Everyone is secure in this knowledge…but still, the guilt feelings overtake me at Christmas. This year, none of my children will be able to come home to Montana for Christmas. It’s rare that this happens, and I have always dreaded it.

    But this year, something has changed in me. I do not dread it. My husband and I are free to focus on the Lord and what Christmas really means. We are reading the Advent Scriptures together and beginning our prayers for 2013. I am throwing a party for girlfriends. I have let some of this go. Thank you Lord.

  3. Hello Laura,
    You are so right about the TV commercials in regards to Christmas. We can get so caught up in the commercialism at this time of year. I know I can easily get distracted with all the preparations and when this starts to happen for me I go to the Lord and ask Him for His help.
    Also this year it is my husband who has been decorating our home and that in a way has taken some of the pressure off.
    Also our immediate family is Adopting a family for Christmas through the Salvation Army this year instead of going all out on buying gifts that we don’t really need for each other.

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