CHRISTMAS—–AGAIN!

Christmas Nativity

Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………December 9, 2014

Well, it happened again. Christmas arrived before I did with it’s carols and lights and trees and store hype while I am still back in flags and fireworks and patriotism.  Christmas just seems to be on a faster track than I am.  I need time to allow the great Spirit of Christmas to seep in slowly so I can adjust and clear my head of incidentals like bill paying and house dejunking and family crises and Church callings.  But Christmas doesn’t tip toe in quietly and slowly raise the blinds until you can get used to the light.  No, it jerks you awake with a thunderbolt of hoopla which I never seem to be prepared for.

Part of the problem, perhaps the biggest part, is that Thanksgiving came a week late this year.  A whole week!  There should be a law against that.  Why can’t Thanksgiving be on the 3rd Thursday of November, not the fourth?  That would help immensely.  Then as soon as Thanksgiving is over we could be more attuned to Christmas and its incredible hustle and bustle. Actually, I think we’re all trying to do the H & B all year long and just accelerate the moves in December.

Last year I made a great attempt to be ready spiritually and physically for Christmas, trying to do something every day in its honor.  I was inspired by Scrooge’s classic sentence, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  I sort of petered out by June but I was more ready for the season when it came barreling down the calendar and blasted into December—or rather, October.

But this year I can’t gather the warm blanket of Christmas wishes around me tight enough and I’m rather hanging out of the season’s joy.  Here it is December 9th.  Many of my neighbors’ lights are twinkling like little Christmas giggles and their trees are triumphant in their showcasing windows.  But our house stands in unlit shame and the Christmas tree still needs to be dragged from its year long cardboard entombment across the dry grass of the back yard and into the house that has just been scrubbed clean by the God-sent cleaners.

The many “So, are you all ready for Christmas?” inquiries made by well-meaning OCD individuals, who are just looking for conversation, embellish the problem.  They make you feel that if you are haven’t lit, hung, decorated, bought, wrapped, baked, read, visited, photoed, written and sent by the day after Thanksgiving, you might as well not bother.

This is about when my yearly mantra chimes in, “I will just make it through this year’s celebration and do better next year.”

But wait.  I can change that.  I can fling that sentence out of my head’s storage of useless jabber.  The years are thinning out for me and to miss the full joy of even one irretrievable Christmas would be counter to a life well spent.  So ready or not, it will not be hard to fill my mind and my soul with these sentences instead.  They can bring peace not only to me but to all:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

What else matters?  Merry Christmas!

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Ready for Christmas? Humph!

Grinch

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

Christmas has been looming over the horizon for some time now striking a bit of fear in my pusillanimous (just thought I’d try that word since this computer’s thesaurus gave it as an option) heart.   I am trying to be prepared but it is doubtful that I can be totally ready although I’ve had a year to do so. Christmas and I have had a rather tenuous relationship through the years.  It always comes interrupting my attempts at just getting on with regular life.  I feel that in the midst of complete chaos and striving, the Christmas celebrating world expects us to now cram even more into already full lives as though we have just been sitting around all year waiting for something to do.

Although I am way behind on birthday wishes and thank you notes, I now need to write out and mail at least fifty Christmas cards.  Although I have scores of things waiting to be written up for my blog, I need to take precious time to write a family Christmas letter to go inside those Christmas cards along with a family picture which takes some doing since it now involves 28 individuals.  I seldom take the time to make dinner, much to Brad’s vexation, but in this Season of Insanity, I feel a great need to stay in the kitchen long enough to stir up some treats for neighbors and friends.  I have some picture-hanging hang-ups since we painted some of the rooms and few pictures have made it back to the walls. But instead of spending time on that project, I need to find a place to hang the stockings which is a real puzzler since in a remodeling frenzy we deleted our fireplace.

I have bulging drawers, cupboards and closets that are begging to be dug out, but instead I am digging out Christmas decorations and instead of decorating the house for year round service, I am decorating the tree and the railing in green and red.  Exercise and sensible eating have been replaced by errand running and constant snacking since sweets are in abundance and at hand.  And instead of planting flowers outside, I am helping Brad put up the Christmas lights, never getting them quite right.

All the parties that might have been scheduled throughout the year are, of course, packed into December.  The budget I almost had under control is totally blown. I am constantly stacking and re-stacking papers and miscellaneous items to get them out of the way.  The plan is to go through the stashed stacks when Christmas is over but then a new bombardment of paper work and stuff enters the house and the stacks stick around for weeks and weeks—ok, months and months. Then I hear songs about how this is the happiest time of the year.  I say again, “Humph!”

I know–I do it to myself.  None of the above is required.  I ought to love Christmas. I want to love Christmas.  I do love what it stands for.  Who doesn’t need to be reminded about the Savior’s birth and His infinite love for us?  We should be thinking of His Atonement every day.  I love the Christmas music, especially if I get to do some of the singing.   I love the programs and the talks in Church and the idea of peace on earth.  I especially love being with my family.  If it takes Christmas to get us all together, then it’s worth the fanfare but I would much rather enjoy my family without all the afore mentioned extras.

Perhaps I could get a petition going around to have Christmas every other year.  Years go by so fast now.  It seems we just make the Valentine cookies when it’s time for Easter eggs.  In a flash the Fireworks pop and then Halloween whips around like Casper and Thanksgiving gobbles up the time until it is Christmas again and I am outside hanging lights with Brad as he mutters, “These are so cheesy.”  Time warps from one Christmas to the next so quickly that it makes me feel like I am on the end of a very long human Crack the Whip.

I am trying to change my attitude.  At the first sign of a Christmas tree in Sam’s Club one day after Halloween, I attempt to calm my mind and bring the sweet remembrances of Christmas into it.  I do quite well for a while until it is suddenly two weeks before Christmas and I am not ready.

The question, “Ready for Christmas?” is not my favorite.  It implies that you have a given number of things to check off your list and then you can just sit drumming your fingers until Christmas morning comes tap tapping at your door.  Well, that list is so long that it is never completed, for me anyway.  So I’ve had to make some adjustments in my thinking.

I am trying to remember that the list is Christmas.  The doing and preparing and anticipating is all part of it and if the process can’t be enjoyed, then the road to Christmas morning will be paved with frustration.  Therefore, I am making an effort to enjoy the things I do and delete the things I don’t enjoy.  It is still a struggle.

If there really is magic in Christmas, then I think it is time to take advantage of it.  I want that magic to come on in and make itself at home because it must have the ability to lengthen time, increase capacity, stretch finances and buoy up spirits.

That is my wish for Christmas this year: that the magic of Christmas will fill my soul and allow me to triumph in this season and make it a happy one for all.

May it also fill yours!

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