Thursday, December 19, 2013

Time for Something Different?

The drive thru window was dressed in red and green and looked quite joyful, but the attendant was really distracted, even abrupt as I waited on the coffee I ordered.
So I said, trying to strike up a conversation to see what might be wrong, ..."are you excited about Christmas?" Her reply went something like this - "Excited??? I have so much shopping to do, I am so not ready, I need more time, more money, and someone to help with it all, I am just ready for it to be over with".
I looked at her face. The eyes that darted back and forth. Her downturned mouth. Her countenance showed me she really meant what she said.
So I suggested something... "Then just don't shop this year."
She looked at me like I was on crack.
"What? What do you mean? I cant do that!"
"But why?" I asked.
"Because! I mean, everyone expects to get presents!"
I said "Well sure, little ones do, but the older ones and adults in your life - they're old enough to understand it's not about them at all, right? That its about being together, being thankful, about celebrating the birth of Christ. What if you just decorated, watched some Christmas specials together, cooked a big dinner together, and found a new tradition?"
She blinked several times then said "What do you mean? I don't get it".
I told her that we do gifts for our kids, but that the adult siblings/family members, etc stopped exchanging gifts a long time ago. And that my husband and I never have really - we just decided when we got married to make that for the kids and to either plan a getaway together or get something for the house we needed as a present to one another. No stress, no pressure, and that our Christmases had been peaceful ever since. I shared that we find Christmasy activities to do around town together, watch certain specials, go look at lights, find somewhere to give a little of our time and money to, decorate, go to church Christmas Eve services, have a family Christmas Day dinner, etc... but that all the stressful things had purposefully been removed years ago.
"What if you did that?" I asked her.
She stammered out "well, I just, I don't, I can't... what would they all think?"
I said "You may be surprised at how grateful they all are that someone finally put an end to all the craziness, and may decide you just gave them the best gift or all".
She was still blinking and looking at me like I had three heads when I pulled away. I don't know if she'll consider it. I hope she does.
There's nothing wrong with gifts and the like, not at all. It can be a joy to give things, it should be! But when that becomes a source of stress, of making you uncomfortable, becomes a financial hardship, or just takes any joy and focus away from the reason for Christmas at all - its time to reconsider.
My friend Brad blogged the other day that Christmas was really all about us - in the sense that Jesus put on flesh and left Heaven FOR us. But that's the ONLY way it's about us.
To be honest - there are only a few actual gifts I still remember getting as a kid with great clarity. The year I got an easy bake oven, the year I got my record player (yes, I'm old enough to have gotten a turn table), and my first ten speed bike and skateboard.
The things I remember most are the trees, Dad playing Candy-land with me over and over by the tree and never complaining when I asked for one more time, the homemade fudge and candy, the lights around the city we went searching for in the car each year to see who had the best ones, the nativities, and that it took way more years than it should have for me to put 2 and 2 together that my Dad was never at home when "santa" called me every Christmas Eve.
I hate for anyone to "just be ready for it to be over with"... slow down, relish what Christmas is and what it actually could be for you and those you love. A time of joy, love, and peace on earth - even if just for one day
I hope you have the Merriest of Christmases!
Joyful on the Journey