Thursday, November 29, 2012

Uncomplicate Your Christmas

I admit it.  I do it to myself.

I get on Pinterest and I pin everything Christmas.  How to Decorate my Mantel.  100 Elf on the Shelf Ideas.   Burlap Christmas Wreaths.  Fruit-filled table centerpieces.   Recycled Christmas card decorations.   Instructions for how to make your home smell like Willams-Sonoma.  Ridiculously elaborate recipes for breakfast on Christmas morning.   Crockpot Apple Cider.   How to get a postmarked letter from the North Pole.  Homemade, hand-decorated gift wrap.  Special gift boxes for the kids to open on Christmas Eve.  Edible Handmade Gifts under $10.  Funny Christmas card photo ideas for your family Christmas card.   Christmas nail art.  150 Stocking Stuffer ideas.   DIY salt-dough ornaments.  And then I’m supposed to remember to keep Christ in Christmas and be environmentally-conscious around the holidays.

At some point, I’ll start my Christmas list.   In addition to family gifts, there are friends’ kids, and neighbors, teachers, mailmen, hairstylists.  Tips, gratuities.  How much do you give?  Black Friday, Cyber Monday.  UPS, Fedex.  Where’s that package?  Do I have enough wrapping paper?  We’re out of TAPE!!!!

It’s not long before the Christmas-related activities start.  There’s Breakfast with Santa, Christmas portraits, cookie swaps, volunteering, the Macy’s Light Show, driving around to see neighbor’s intricate light displays, the school’s Christmas pageant, decorating the house – inside and out. 

I don’t know about you, but I feel short of breath just writing this.

And I can say with all honesty that I just do not enjoy the holidays at all anymore.  And I used to LOVE the holidays.  I feel pressure, and stress, and plain old dread.

Now, if I sit here and close my eyes and think back to the last time I felt actual Christmas joy, it was probably back before I was married with kids.  There is something about all this responsibility to make sure our kids are having a nice Christmas that saps my own joy.  

How did all of this happen?  I’m quite sure that when I was a kid in the 70’s, none of this existed.  Christmas was simple.  You got Christmas music on the radio the week before Christmas.  You couldn’t wait for the small handful of Christmas specials on TV, like Rudolph and Frosty and Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey.  (If that last one doesn’t ring a bell, look it up.  It is probably the most touching Christmas special of all time.)   Christmas wasn’t jammed down your throat.  It was simple.

The first Christmas was about as uncomplicated as it gets.  Two people and a baby in a barn.  I can guarantee there was no sophisticated mantel decoration in that stable.    Mary didn’t offer the wise men some crockpot hot cocoa with pre-frozen whipped cream dollops when they arrived.   Their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were probably not bought from Walmart at 4 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving.

What I’m trying to say is that this year, I’m going to try and uncomplicate things.   I don’t know how to do that, exactly.  I feel pressure from every angle.  But I vow to make a conscious effort to trim it down to the basics.  The minute I feel my chest tightening, I will re-evaluate whatever I’m doing.  Do I really need to take the kids to every single Christmas light display in the city?  Do the girls really need a three-foot pile of toys on Christmas morning?  Must I make the most sumptuous, ostentatious appetizer I can find for the Christmas dinner table or the most adorable cupcakes for a Christmas playdate?

Take the pledge with me:  I pledge to keep it simple this year.  I will find the joy in Christmas. 


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