"Mom, why don't you like Christmas?"
I guess "Ugh" isn't quite "Bah, Humbug!", but to my daughter's ears it did make me sound a bit like Scrooge...okay, a lot like Scrooge.
I love Christmas.
I do. I just don't understand why we start the countdown before we've even had Thanksgiving!
I love the decorations
- the sparkling lights and the festive colors.
- driving through the neighborhoods to check out the displays
- picking out the perfect tree
- filling the house with lights and decorations
- the Boat Parade in Newport Harbor.
Everything is transformed for this wonderful season.
I love the gifts - picking out something special for the people I love and anticipating the look of delight when they open the brightly wrapped package.
Oh yeah, getting gifts too! That part is great! I always seem to forget that I will be at the receiving end as well.
I love the food. I love the food. Oops, I wrote that twice.
You know what I mean. All those scrumptious holiday treats that we eat only at this time of year. Then we ask, "Why don't we make this the rest of the year?" only to realize that if we did, we would weigh approximately the same as a baby hippo (or a mama hippo.)
There are the delicious baked goods for starters (dessert first.) In my family the list here is long.
Dessert is very important. Each family event is rated by how many desserts are available.
One or two, that's for amateurs!
At the top of the list is Grandma's pulla, otherwise known as Finnish coffee bread. It is the most amazing sweet bread, made in a braided loaf, with a hint of cardamom - off the hook!
All other baking is secondary to the bread. We must have the bread. My sister has become an expert at the bread-baking also, so dozens of loaves are baked and consumed over the holidays. Just thinking about it now is making me a little light-headed.
But, of course, the bread isn't it. There's
- caramel corn (Kathy's favorite)
- shortbread (Steve's favorite)
- sugar cookies (Sam's)
- chocolate fudge
- Nanaimo bars (an overall fav)
- peppermint bark
- chocolate covered pretzels
- Chinese chews (Rachel's favorite)
- pumpkin pie
- and the must-have jam-jams (Poppa's contribution to the holidays)
We eat real food too, not just dessert. You know, turkey, potatoes, carrots, yams, green beans, stuffing... I could go on, but I think you get the point.
So...what's not to love about Christmas?
It's so much work!
The decorations are beautiful but they don't just fly out of the boxes and land on the tree and around the house by themselves. Somebody has to put them up.
The gifts are wonderful, but (don't spread the word on this), little elves do not magically appear with them gift-wrapped under the tree.
The food is marvelous, and I know you can buy it pre-made in the store, but in our family, that just doesn't cut it!
So...when I see Christmas looming on the horizon, I get tired before I've even started. I just see long 'to-do' lists looming and the days shrinking away while I seem to spin my wheels getting very little accomplished. I want to relax and enjoy the moment, but 'the moment' never seems to come.
Oh yeah, I forgot one thing. One little thing. One major little thing.
Born in a manger.
I know this is the only way to keep my sanity during the holidays. I have to keep reminding myself what Christmas is really about - what the fuss and bother really mean to a believer, to one who is a follower of the Christ child born in a manger, over 2000 years ago.
If we had no gifts (now my kids are starting to panic), if the decorations never came out of the boxes, if the celebrations and parties never materialized and the baking never took place, Christmas would still be Christmas.
All of these are trappings and ornamentation - trappings that pull me away from the focus of the season - to celebrate the birth of my Savior.
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice
from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)