Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Letting Go of Expectations, Keeping Perspective and What's Really Important

Well, now, that's a lengthy title, is it not? And that was version number three!

It's the Christmas season.

That's not news to you, dear reader, obviously. It's impossible to miss the signs.

I always think of this scene in Bruce Almighty when someone says "show me a sign".

Stores have had trees and Christmas decorations on display since October (or earlier, in the case of craft and sewing retailers). Commercials on TV lure us to shop, shop, shop for all the perfect gifts for everyone we know, knew or might possibly know in the future. Radio stations are cranking out Jingle Bells and White Christmas. Grocery ads have all the baking supplies, hams and trimmings on sale for The Perfect Christmas Dinner. Even stop lights blink a bright red and green!

All of this creates pressure on us women, particularly, to do it all and make the holidays perfect in every way, even if it kills us. Expectations....which leads to the post-holiday blues the day after Christmas when it didn't turn out like a Hallmark movie despite all that tearing about like the proverbial chicken.

This is why I have scaled down my Christmas "doings". Instead of baking a dozen different kinds of cookies and making six different kinds of candy, I turned it back to two cookies and three candies, all very simple and small batches, too. I did most of my shopping online this year, as well as my usual clearance shopping throughout the year. My dear husband bought us a new tree this year - a slim, pre-lit one that was so much easier for me to decorate. (Although, next year, I'll forego the garland. I got dizzy winding it around the tree!) There used to be a time when I decorated every room in the house with lights, greenery, shelf-sitters, etc. I still enjoy doing that, but it's not in every room anymore, and only takes one day instead of three.

What's really important about all that craziness? Is that REALLY what Christmas is all about? Of course not! Christians chose this winter celebration date to remember the birth of Christ. Before that, pagans celebrated the winter solstice this time of year. Neither of these celebrations were intended to drive people crazy. Let's keep perspective on the season and get back to enjoying it.

For me, the Christmas season is a time of gathering with family and friends, spending time with people we love. Sometimes that involves gift giving, but in my circle of loved ones, we keep it simple. Christmas is a time of joy, remembering how God sent His Son to live among us and save us from our sins. Christmas is a time of thankfulness, of sharing, and of peace.

I'll never host a Hallmark Christmas gathering. Mine are probably more Charlie Brown in nature. I once hosted a Not-So-Martha-Stewart Thanksgiving dinner in my bedroom! Ask me about that sometime...it was great fun! But I am perfectly happy with the simple, uncomplicated ways we celebrate Christmas in my family. We're thankful to be together, enjoying one another's company, strengthening those family ties.

This will be the first Christmas I've ever celebrated without my Grandpa. He went to heaven a couple of weeks ago. It will be different without him, but I am so very thankful for the years we had with him. He was the leader of our clan and we all wanted him to be proud of us. We were certainly proud of him!

Being thankful is definitely a key in keeping the holiday season in perspective. Gratitude for what we already have will keep away the greed for more stuff, which only weighs us down anyway. Heather, a blogger friend, recently contacted me and asked if I would share a bit of her story. She lives a life of gratitude. Heather is an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. You can read her story on her blog at www.mesothelioma.com/heather and learn more. Thank you, Heather, for asking me to write about something for which I am thankful...it's helping me keep my perspective in this busy time of year!

My Not-So-Martha-Stewart Christmas tree and "mantle".

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

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