Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Taking Control of Christmas

So, what does Christmas look like to you? 

As I sit here at the beginning of the Advent season, dogs snuggled on either side of me and a newly placed naked Christmas tree in front of me, I wonder how this will end. 

Like you, I’ve experienced a crazy last couple years and everything seems sideways. I don’t remember what normal was two years ago but I’m convinced that there has to be a better way now. 

I’ve been scrolling through Google looking at minimalist Christmases. This all started last night in the wee hours of the morning while I lay there and thought of all I needed to do to get the house decorated for an upcoming family get-together. Not to mention friends and others who will be stopping in over the next week or so.  God forbid that my house should be in a state of chaos, boxes everywhere, half-finished projects on every surface. As I lay there in bed, tears rolling down my face, I realized something had to give. This isn’t how I want to celebrate Christmas, nor is it the reason I celebrate Christmas. Christ is my reason and my heart longs to draw closer to Him and not be so exhausted physically that I don’t care about anything more than survival. 

I read a couple of things that made me stop and think…

One of them was being Intentional…intentional about what brings joy and peace into our home. You mean that is an option? 

The second was that we could do things Differently. Just because we’ve done something year after year doesn’t mean we need to keep on doing it. That was a freeing idea to me as I am a diehard traditionalist.  

The third was just Decorating One Central Room. Now I like that idea! I tend to decorate living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, guest bedrooms, etc. As I think about all the work that will take, I want to crawl into a corner and die. 

So this year I am determined to take control of Christmas. I’m tired of being under the influence of our culture, my past, and especially my expectations of what should be. Ever since I was a child in New England, I have clung to this notion that it’s the most wonderful time of the year and it should look that way. But I don’t live in New England anymore and I’m not the same person I was. And things do change, don’t they?

My biggest struggle? This crazy notion that I will disappoint people because God knows I live to make people happy, especially the grandchildren who have always known Grammy's house as a sparkly, colorful, winter wonderland. But something tells me that they would rather have a Grammy who is joyful and who has time to spend with them, making memories with crafts or games or baking rather than running on empty.

So now I’m daring to think, decorating wise, What makes me happy? A Christmas tree makes me happy. And after looking at scores of trees online and how they could look, I realize I have freedom to decorate the tree anyway I like! This year I think it would be really cool to actually see the tree! Considering we cut her down and gave her a place of honor in our home, I think she’s beautiful just as she is. And yes, I do call all my trees 'she' (smile).

Another thing that brings me joy are twinkling white lights and candles, poinsettias and greenery, even if it’s just a vase of cut branches and berries. All these things restore my spirit instead of drain it and help me to be reflective, especially towards the real meaning of Christmas. It will be incredibly hard not to open all those boxes of decorations that represent years of memories. Really, what kind of person doesn’t use their traditional Christmas ornaments? And would leave them to languish unseen? Seriously, are they going to cry in disappointment? (eye-roll) Change is hard for me but I think this is worth the struggle. Not just for me, but for my dear husband who would love to have an unstressed wife for the next six weeks!

I’m thinking the world won’t end if I do Christmas differently this year (shocking!). And if I enjoy this new freedom, I may choose to let go and ask my children and grandchildren if they would like any of the decorations that have brought me joy in the past but now no longer fit into my life. I love the idea of passing on things, but only if they want them and will find joy in them. Do unto others as you would have others do onto you!

Please know that this is a personal journey. It reflects probably, in a bigger way than I realize, my desire to take control of many areas of my life that I have let go. If you love doing Christmas in a super big way and it looks totally different to you, I say go for it! And just as none of us likes the same foods or decorating the same way or wearing the same clothes, Christmas, which is a super intimate time of the year, should reflect who you are and what is important to you. I’m just a little late in getting around to that!

Thank you, dear one, for allowing me to ramble. I wish you a blessed Advent season, filled with the mysteries of Christ and His coming. I wish you, more than anything, Joy. You are dearly loved! ❤️

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