After a busy day at church, complete with a Sunday School Christmas concert practice, accompaniment on piano during the service and a fellowship meal to prepare, eat and then clean up, the last thing I feel like doing is digging out Christmas ornaments to deck the halls. Falalala….falafel. ‘Cause I feel like the former ground-up chickpea concoction is what sums up my Christmas ho ho at the moment. And it doesn’t help matters that I have an empty tank when it comes to bottling up Christmas cheer. The emotional kind, that is. I am just not feeling it right now. And everyone else I talk to seems to have Christmas spirit in excess. Even Christmas bucket lists which are on their way to culmination as I write.
I wish some of this joy would rub off on me.
While I mentally decide whether or not to start a project I am not committed to completing, I continue to stave off the rugrats while telling them for the umpteenth time that ‘no, we are not putting the tree up this afternoon’. The tree is just more than I can handle right now. And then I feel guilty for being The Grinch. So I put on my flip-flops and head down to the cellar. To look for my first box of Christmas cheer in the form of dozens and dozens of little figurines that I have “collected” from the school flea markets over the years. (And then tried to hide in various locations around the house as soon as they were opened.)
(Note: My Darling Daughter found one particularly hideous Santa that I had stashed underneath my kitchen sink and then remarked about how odd it was to find it there, as she had picked it out for me the year before and presented it to me on Christmas morning as a present. Ouch. That puppy is going in a special spot this year. Definitely getting a promotion from the dark recesses of the nether regions behind the dishwasher detergent.)
Speaking of dark. It is dark down here in the cellar and I cannot find a thing. Everything has moved since I was last down here. The totes that I think are Christmas ornaments and decorations end up being boxes of scarves, soccer cleats and winter coats. And then I start to look around even more. Now that my eyes have adjusted, everything looks …well, really dirty, messy and just plain gross. And cluttered. And…, oh forget about it. I am going to have to get a little busier before I get down to finding the Christmas cheer.
Argh. So now I have to sort through the cellar clutter before I even get to the task at hand (which is not what I really want to do anyway. That is, decorate.) I begin wading through Rubbermaid containers filled with stuff. Too much stuff. And when I finish, I have two over-stuffed blue bags to send to the Sally Anne. And one empty tote. This is a good thing. I survey the damage and feel a slight improvement in my mood.
Back to the decorations. I head upstairs with the selected ornaments and other paraphernalia and I begin to enlist some help. Where are my Christmas elves? No one is interested. Everyone has things to do. Because Christmas decorations are not as exciting as a Christmas tree. There now. Isn’t it funny how this works out? These best of intentions always seem to get the better of me.
And here I am even tonight. A counter full of things that need a spot. Candles missing light bulbs. Too many Santa ornaments on the counter to count. And no desire to make the move to place it all in its temporary December home. And an ever-depleting tank of Christmas spirit.
This Christmas, I had decided that I was going to stop placing expectations on myself. As I usually outdo my own list each year. And here is where the rubber meets the road. I am trying to do everything…making everything perfect for everybody. Cooking, cleaning, decorating, writing, reading Christmas selections, buying, wrapping, singing Christmas carols, visiting, baking, Yankee swapping, Christmas partying and on and on we go. And then I end up feeling that the bubble bursts for me on Christmas day. And now here I am this year, feeling that I cannot keep up to my own good intentions.
So, this is where I am at. I am going to do what I can when I can with what I can. As much as I can. And that is all. Because it is not worth it to complete an endless Christmas to-do list and lose my Christmas spirit. And if that means that Santa is sharing a counter with the salt and pepper shaker and the candles are only lit on one half of the house, then so be it. Because I have some Christmas cheer to seek out. And I have a pretty good idea that it is not to be found in a crazy to-do list.
And the other thing I am going to do is search deep within myself for truth and meaning. So that I can seek out what is the truth about Christmas in spite of it all. And here is tonight’s truth:
“Christmas is a time for simplicity. A time to examine the heart and weed out that which clutters the soul. A time to re-examine the need for stuff and the desire to simplify. After all, the Christ-Child was born into poverty. And I am humbled to have been born into so much more than this, a life of privilege, richness and hope. May I never take it for granted. May I ever be grateful.”