I turned our van on this past Saturday morning and Christmas music blared through the speakers. I couldn’t believe it.
“It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” yelled my six-year-old daughter. My sons ranted along with her and as Jingle Bells played I felt an uneasiness well up inside me.
Does that ever happen to you?
You’re strolling along through your day, minding your own business when suddenly a song plays or someone says something and the anxiety washes over you like a wave at the ocean.
My thoughts took me back to last Christmas. I was coming out of the deepest depression I had ever experienced. My heart ached during that whole season. I had little of the joy everyone said Christmas should give me.
“Mom, change the station. We don’t want to hear Christmas music yet! We want to wait.” Ah, the lessons of children are plentiful.
How many times had I rushed into the Season of Giving with my to-do list a mile long? How often did I have every activity played out in my mind before December even started? The gingerbread house, the cookie decorating, the card making, the visiting of relatives, the late night trips to the mall, the lights we just had to see.
Last year I did less than I ever had and thinking about that aspect gave me a bit of comfort. At least there were no expectations on me. My family knew the seriousness of my situation so there wasn’t much I was asked to do.
Then the thought came to me:
What if we let go of our expectations for everyone else during the Christmas season and just love them instead? What if we freed ourselves from all the lists, parties, baking, prepping, shopping, and anything else we felt like we had to do and did the the things we wanted to do?
Now hear me out. I understand there are responsibilities we all have during this time and I’m not proposing we just forget about those. I’m suggesting we figure out what is most important to us and those we live with and make an effort to follow through.
When our schedules get in the way of real living we forget what Christmas is all about.
Remember the movie Home Alone? Kevin tells his mom that he wishes he lived alone. His wish came true when his family forgot him at home while taking a trip to Paris. Kevin enjoys his time at first but once Christmas Eve rolls around he misses his family and feels guilty for the things he said. He walks down his street and sees families together in their homes around the Christmas tree laughing and opening gifts.
I can’t help but feel sad for little Kevin because he understands what so many adults still do not.
Your children will not remember all the events you attended or every single gift left under the tree. They will look back on Christmas and relish in the memories of when you just spent time together…as a family.
What do you want to cherish this holiday season? How can you lessen the stress?