I tripped on two grocery bags in the middle of my dining room on the way over to the computer. Our bags from our weekend trip litter the kitchen floor. Our Christmas tree stopped taking water last week and the branches are getting closer and closer to the ground. I ordered groceries on line because we’re hosting Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning brunch and I was positive I didn’t have the energy to push the cart today with a cranky three year old. I have too many last minute gifts to buy on a cup of coffee budget, I have two baskets of laundry just waiting to be put away and somehow what I swear I will not let creep in every year with all of it’s noise of expectations and disappointments and ideals and Hallmark card sentiments is staring me right in the face.
It’s this that I hate- the pressure of the days before. The checking the bank account every few hours to see if something cleared. To see how much is left after it does. The last shopping trip never being the last shopping trip as I seem to forget everything this time of year. The thought of the elderly alone, the children with no parents, the parents with no means, the hungry and hopeless. The whirlwind of whose day is whose, who is coming at what time- how to be fully present and not watch the clock for the next Christmas shift. How to live in the glory of Christ’s birth and not suffer pangs of those I love that I couldn’t buy for, be with, love on. It’s these last few days before- no matter how much I have let go of my own expectations the weeks prior- it’s in the crunch time that shines a light on my real lack of progress.
It’s all a bit too much, this Christmas thing. I want to love it every year, even like it a little bit more than the last, but I never do.
So, I’m officially not going to try anymore this year. I’m letting myself off the hook. I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to like all the hoopla that goes along with the Christmas season. I don’t have to work extra hard to make homemade gifts or yeasted cookies that take two days to assemble. I don’t have to stay awake for days wondering what the perfect gift would be. I don’t have to like putting ornaments on the tree or even watching Christmas movies. I don’t have to.
We went to Philly this past weekend and attended a little Christmas concert put on by the students who attend the private school my SIL works for. It was a beautiful old church with candles and wreaths and red ribbons, and the children sang with hope in great big choirs about peace, and love, and the Christ child. Their parents and staff talked about loving their city well and we all went back out into the cold believing that they would. Love each other well.
I can get behind that kind of Christmas thing.
The other things can go.