Monday, December 19, 2011

My therapeutic post about Christmas

I am a very happy and blessed person so by sharing what I am about to share, please don't think that I am depressed about the holidays but I really have a confession.... I wish it was January already!
The nostalgia of Christmas for me is gathering with my Mom's little side of the family.  We always went to my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve.  Drinks, food, grandparents opening gifts... my mom, her two sisters and their families all together.  Then Christmas morning opening gifts at home and returning to my grandparents' house for a turkey dinner.
We don't travel to our hometown for Christmas now that we have 3 kids and we have yet to form any traditions that I look forward to every single year here in CT.  We moved here in 2000.  For the first few years, we'd gather with Jay's mom's side who live an hour away.  But since his grandfather died and his grandmother moved to a nursing home, the family scattered.  We still get together but never on Christmas day anymore.  This year it's in January.  Then for a few years we went to Jay's brother and wife's house for an amazing meal.  They love to cook but this year, like last, they are headed to our hometown to be with the rest of the family.  Jay's Mom, who lives an hour away has spent the last couple Christmases with us.  She sleeps over so she can see the kids on Christmas morning.  She loves to shop so we call her Nana Claus.  It's both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing cause I hate to shop and I appreciate that she wants to make the kids happy.  But a curse because she buys TOO much - especially battery operated toys.  Christmas Day is filled with opening those cursed toy traps.  Assembling opened gifts.  Keeping the toy pieces together.  Cleaning up paper and finding room for toys that we don't have space for.  
As I type my anxiety is growing.
What do I look forward to?
The excitement on the kids' faces.  Sure, but looking back on Christmas, it wasn't the gifts for me.
The best part about Christmas was gathering with the whole family at one time.  To feel a part of the whole.  And I don't have that anymore.  My kids don't have that.  So sad to me!  AND, *I* am left with the full responsibility of making my kids Christmas memorable and meaningful in a new way.  I have to start and do things that will eventually become traditions.  I shop.  I wrap.  I cook.  I organize.  I have to do sooo much, physically and mentally.  And Jesus, the reason to really celebrate gets lost in the shuffle as do I.
I don't like anxious, task-overloaded Mary.
Grinch on top of my tree

Jay tells me to cut back and not do so much, but I have to.  It's Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year.  (Should be most nostalgic time of the year.  Hard for sooo many.)  I could hardly NOT shop for my kids.  Or NOT cook a nice meal.  And I enjoy my mother-in-law's company VERY much.  So blessed to have her in our lives, and very appreciative for her.
Maybe it's because my grandfather just died and I know that even if we did go home for Christmas, everything has changed.  I am a big ball of anxiety this week, although I am overall a happy and optimistic person.
I sure wish all the hoopla would be over and I get go shopping again without crazy lines and go to the post office without them running out of postage.  Yes, really!  Ran out of first class stamps!!

My manger scene

And at church yesterday, the message was about "the Gift of Joy".
"The joy of the LORD... is your strength"... Nehemiah 8:9-12
We are so easily distracted by what amuses us and pleases us that we become blind to what God wants for us.  I just find that so applicable to me right now.  And I am trying to focus in on the JOY that the Lord wants for me but I am so easily distracted by the clutter in my home, my to do list, missing my family, what I can do to make Christmas meaningful, how to implement new traditions, etc.
So there, I put it out there. Thanks for listening.  And I hope I haven't depressed anyone.  Just keeping it real.  And what a quick way to end it.  What a rambling post!  Just a glimpse of my scattered brain!


Kathy said...

I totally get it Mary. I too feel as though so much rests on me. What I gained most from that message yesterday was that joy isn't something *I* create, it comes from God. I always thought it was solely in MY hands to create a joyful Christmas or a joyful home - and though I CAN choose joy, I don't have to be the one responsible for bringing joy into our lives.

Anonymous said...

I do the-whole-thing, checks are mailed to us and I do the gift buying and wrapping for extended family who wish to give a gift to our kids, we have celebrated the past many years just the 4 of us, whatever Christmas is, is up to me. And, I am no Martha Stewart, not in the kitchen, not in the craft department, not in the smiley "everything is good" department. This is why I love Thanksgiving, I find it a simpler holiday, this is why I wonder how Christmas has become hijacked, this is why, just one year I'd like to cancel it and only make it about Jesus. Just once. I am looking forward to January as well.

Sunflowerakb's Yellow House said...

I've been thinking about starting my own Christmas traditions even though I live close to my family & do get to enjoy Christmas Eve & Christmas day with them. It seems hard no matter your stage of life. Have you asked your kids what they remember from prior years and things they'd like to repeat? One tradition I really enjoyed that we don't do anymore is baking & then decorating sugar cookies. simple, edible & a lot of fun!

Emily said...

I"m totally with you on that Mary! I'm not in the Christmas spirit this year.

In Light of the Truth... said...

So sad that over the years you've lost the tradition of celebrating with family! We celebrate with family but hardly ever actually at Christmas because Kevin usually works. So we've come to establish some of our own Christmas traditions, and none that have anything to do with consumerism. I simply don't DO all that Christmas baking and giving to every single friend I know. I just am not going to take that on. Sending out Christmas cards is enough for me. And the teacher gifts were just a heartfelt card and gift card. So I don't feel busy busy like everyone else! We don't buy a ton of presents and our extended families typically give gift money which we try to spend at museums or fun outings. Through this Christmas season I wrapped all the kids' Christmas books we packed away last year and each night we open a new book. They've soo enjoyed that, although as soon as I say "get jammies on and then we'll open a book" Carter dashes off to the tree and tears it open before we've had a chance to stop him! lol I've been trying extra hard to pull Christian lessons from just regular secular Christmas books and do activities like "okay, now I want you each to go to your rooms and pick out something you're willing to give away to someone else this Christmas. Something you may still LIKE but are willing to share." Or make it an activity as you pack a whole BOX of things. You already pray for the families you get cards from, and I LOVE that you do that! There are tons of fun Christmas crafts and preschool lessons, but ya know, that's when it starts to get too much for me. Christmas Eve we'll sing some songs at the piano and watch The Nativity movie. Christmas day this year will be at church. And the next day we'll do our Christmas, complete with a feast of meal for the 5 of us, presents and stockings. Christmas is what you want it to be. And that's fine!