I was reviewing my “to do” list today; you know, the one with all the items on it that still need doing with Christmas less than two weeks away….
At this rate I probably won’t be ready for this Christmas until next year.
How in the world did it all get so complicated? So rushed? So last minute?
When I was younger Christmas seemed to take forever to arrive. I don’t remember taking weeks to shop, weeks to decorate. Making batches and batches of all kinds of cookies to give away as gifts and take to work. Buying an angel tree gift. Putting change in the Salvation Army kettle. Making sure you have all the latest gadgets and goodies for the kids and grandkids. Spending a fortune on Santa photos at the mall. Going to craft shows and open houses and concerts…. Oh, and then there are those gifts still to wrap…thank goodness for gift bags!
No wonder we feel rushed. And stressed. And exhausted.
And wonder why we just don’t seem to enjoy the Christmas season the way we used to. Why it seems like more of a hassle than anything else.
Maybe that’s how we’re making it these days. We’re so busy trying to put together a perfect holiday, a perfectly decorated home, and perfectly wrapped perfect gifts, we forget to stop and just enjoy the beauty of the season.
We stop looking at it through the eyes of a child, who sees nothing but wonder and amazement and excitement with all the festivities. Who can’t wait to visit Santa Claus and tell him what he or she wants for Christmas. Who counts the days, and sometimes the hours until the magic happens on Christmas morning.
While we’re too busy thinking how glad we are that it’s almost over, and we can get back to life as it normally is.
When I was growing up we didn’t spend days and days shopping for gifts. We didn’t spend a fortune on wrapping paper and gift bags (which in my case didn’t even exist at the time).
We didn’t spend days or weeks decorating the house. We only had one tree in my mother’s house; now I have six. And ask myself “why?” every year. We very seldom decorated with outside lights, and if we did there were just a few. Now neighbors sometimes spend weeks putting up their outside decorations, trying to outdo their neighbors, or see just how many lights and inflatables they can put in their front yards. (And don’t those inflatables look awful in the daylight when they’re deflated?)
Santa photos were taken with our own cameras, and we had to wait a week or so to get them developed, and then hope they turned out. When the Polaroid cameras came out we were thrilled to leave Santa’s chair with a picture in our hands to put by our beds to remember that special time!
We didn’t rush out to start our Christmas shopping as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was over to make sure we got a head start on the sales. Or spend the cold night in a line outside an electronics store just to be one of the first to get the best deals when the store opened the next morning.
Our Christmas stockings were filled with fruit, candy, candy canes, crayons…inexpensive items we used every day and really appreciated. Santa didn’t fill our living room with gifts; we got maybe 7-8 presents (if that) and thought we were blessed beyond measure. And we appreciated each and every one of those gifts, taking our time to open them to make the fun last longer. We played with those gifts exclusively for probably a week until we put them away when we took the tree down.
Now we can’t wait to rush out early the day after Christmas to take advantage of those after-Christmas sales to get all the things we know we’ll need for next year, and buy things we really wanted but didn’t get. And we start the madness all over again.
We’re all guilty. We’re all doing it now. Every year I say I’m going to cut back. Only do one tree, not bake all those cookies, not go crazy with gifts, and sit back and just enjoy the beauty and joy of the season. But the house looked unfinished with only one tree, so I gave in and put them all up. I haven’t made cookies yet, but I’m seriously planning to
make no more than six kinds. Yes, seriously.
I’ve tried to resist getting that one extra gift for several people, and really hope I can stick to that plan, but when I say I don’t need gifts for Christmas I do mean it. I just want everyone else to be happy, and save their money for things they need, not buy things for me because they think they’re supposed to.
I really do wish for a simpler Christmas. Obviously it’s not going to happen this year. I’ve already overdecorated. I’ll probably end up making too many cookies again. I’ll probably overspend on stocking stuffers as well. And I’ll probably cook way too much for Christmas dinner like I do every year.
So maybe next year, I can start earlier, do less, and actually sit down and enjoy the Christmas season.
How about you?