The shopping centres are just quietly starting to decorate windows and a Christmas tune or two on the playlist. Television advertising has already begun to help us decide the best gadget we ‘need’ this year. And then there’s the guessing game of if we’ll even be able to travel to see family this year. I’m not ready for the year to end yet – still so much to do!! The anxiety has already launched itself into conversations with those we are closest to. Sometimes I have to wonder why celebrate Christmas at all?
Maybe you love it – it’s a time of family, laughter, love, sharing, shopping, eating, holidays…
But, you see, Christmas, in some ways, while amazingly nostalgic and a celebration of family, has somehow morphed into a season of unstated expectations. There’s the list of all the things that we think we should do to create the perfect Christmas season. The truth? As beautiful as the rum ball making, card writing, carol singing, tree trimming, crazy shopping, bow topped wrapping and all of that is — that stuff does not define Christmas. That’s not the joy part, honestly. It can be such a stressful time of expense, loneliness, overindulgence, selfishness, and pretence for some.
Personally, I can take it or leave it. While I do love to decorate (a visual feast for a visual person), it can be lonely when it feels like a ‘chore’. I enjoy showering gifts on people (too generously according to some close sources). I love to entertain and prepare lovely food (and eat it), but then complain of being overweight while reaching for another apricot ball. It can leave one feeling deflated rather than joyous.
In my own childhood, Christmas was always celebrated with the focus very much on the Christian message and a wider family gathering. We were never lavished with gifts, although gifts were carefully chosen for us, and we had more than enough. (If I’m honest, I don’t recall too many of the gifts.) I have very fond memories of childhood and our family gatherings.
The Reason for the Season
When my children were young, my top priority was always sharing and reinforcing the Christian meaning of Christmas. Let’s face it – without that there wouldn’t BE Christmas. It’s what I believe, so I wanted to share it. It was the focus on our celebrations. We would participate in the Christmas shoebox appeal and the Kmart Wishing Tree. We’d make our own gifts to give to the postie and neighbours. We read about the Biblical Christmas story, had our own interactive Nativity scene, played Christmas music, visited the re-enactment of the Christmas story downtown, hosted a “birthday party for Jesus” with our friend and decorated our own tree with handmade decorations.
As the silly season starts and you begin to consider YOUR OWN Christmas and the celebrations that you will have, I encourage you to think about WHY you celebrate Christmas? Are your memories happy or not? Do you cringe at the thought of having to be nice to ‘that’ family member? Do you feel as if you don’t ‘give’ enough or even have the capacity to give? What do you believe about the reason for Christmas; is it Santa and his elves, or does it hold a much bigger truth for you? (My children also knew about Santa and left cookies for him.)
What are the traditions and ‘life lessons’ that you want your children to gain from this holiday? Jot those ideas down and share them with your partner and family, then maybe just choose one of those to focus on this year. And if we put our thinking caps on together, maybe we can come up with some ideas on how to celebrate Christmas intentionally, while remaining stress-free!
Natalie is a wife, mum to 3 grown children (and mother-in-law to 3). She is a part-time primary school teacher, small business owner and Mentor at Humeridge Church of Christ MOPS.