I have a hard time with Christmas, I haven’t kept that a secret, I am a full on scrooge. I usually go through the motions on Christmas, and I do enjoy parts of it, with a smile on my face while inside I am just annoyed with the whole thing! This year I have spent time pondering on my rotten attitude. Why do I dislike this season so much when so many other people love and enjoy this time of year? I have come to the conclusion that there are two main issues I have with the Christmas season, the first being; all the time, money and hassle, the second; gluttony. I also came to the conclusion that if I ever wanted to enjoy this season I needed a major attitude adjustment.
Christmas does require a lot of work, time and money. I do have some control over this. I can’t control the amounts of parties and programs that I will be expected to attend, most of the time. I can’t control all the 1$ and 5$ gifts that me and my children are asked to bring to these functions, I honestly feel that white elephant gift exchanges or even the small gift exchanges are are waste of money. I know white elephant gift exchanges are fun, but I really don’t like to bring other peoples junk home and there are other ways to have fun. Also doing a small gift exchange, where everyone bring a 1$ gift (especially in a childrens groups) can make people feel uncomfortable and hurt. Recently two of my daughters participated in one, one of my girls didn’t get her gift picked up and she was so hurt that no one wanted what she had brought. Why do we set people, especially children, up for this kind of hurt all for the sake of getting a gift? There are other ways to have fun, and I think those girls would have been more enriched had they done a service project for Christmas and give to those in need, instead of a gift exchange of items that no one really needed and some people didn’t even want. (O.K. getting off that soap box).
Just because there is some small aspect of a Christmas gathering I don’t like doesn’t mean I need to ban parties all together or just endure the whole thing. I will never change this idea that we have to be giving and getting junk gifts to have a good time, but I can focus on the other activities that are good and enriching. Being with the people we love, listening to them, loving them, rejoicing in their triumph and sorrowing in the hard times. That is truly gift giving, that is what matters, what lasts and what heals hearts. In my experience there is usually some kind of service going on, usually a box in the corner to deposit canned food to give to some charity. This is good. In the past I have grabbed some canned good as we were running out the door, not thinking much about what I was doing, almost grudgingly. I wonder if the giving of canned goods couldn’t be made into a bigger part of my party preparations. I don’t know exactly how I would do that with my children, maybe take them shopping with a budget and have them pick out the food? I do think that we need to be careful in public setting with that kind of a service project. Recently a dear person was unable to bring canned goods to a party and it was pointed out, that they hadn’t brought anything. She didn’t say anything and it was dropped, but I know she felt bad, this year had been terrible for her and her family financially, she later said to me “people are giving me money, and helping me out for Christmas, I didn’t feel like I could give away the little I had, and then require more help”. She was distressed, feeling like she wasn’t serving, I told her that she always has time, and right now being a good friend and loving people and giving of time was enough, and is in fact the greatest service of all. I wonder, had we all pooled the money spent on our 5$ gifts and given it to her for medical bills, would we all not have been more enriched than we were by a 5$ tin of cookies. Just a thought.
Last night I participated in an youth activity. We went caroling and delivered baskets of food to the needy in our neighborhood. It was a nice activity, full of service, those youth gave of their time to give to others. I don’t know how needed the food was in those baskets, but I do know that there are families, and single adults and the sick who know that a group of people took time out of their busy lives, in the freezing cold for them. And that is what the spirit of Christmas and giving is all about. Giving of our time, our love, our lives to lift others up, when we focus on that and think nothing of receiving and being entertained, that is how we combat the bah humbug and let our hearts grow and enjoy this Christmas season.