When I was younger, Christmas was my favorite time of year. I have always loved the music, the movies, the decorations, the parties, and of course celebrating the birth of Jesus. Christmas was my favorite holiday. I eagerly anticipated opening my presents on Christmas morning, was always in the play at church, and attended every Christmas event that I could. I had memorized Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (and can still quote every word of it). I looked forward to December all year long, and I loved every minute of this magical month.
By the time I was in college, Christmas had lost some of its magic. I blamed it on the fact that I worked in retail and had to deal with crazy Christmas shoppers and Christmas music on overload from mid-October until Christmas Eve. I was kind of like Cindy Lou Who in the movie version of The Grinch – I started wondering what all the fuss was about. Why were people running around like crazy, pushing other people around over a pair of $19.99 boots or a $10 Crockpot? What did all this craziness have to do with Christmas, anyway?
While I was working at the mall, I became quite the Grinch. I always thought that as soon as I quit my retail job and started my career, I would start loving Christmas just like I did when I was a little kid.
This is my second Christmas out of retail, and I must admit – I’m still feeling pretty Grinchy. I’m busy, tired, and going broke.
This is the first time I’ve had my own home to decorate, and Christmas decorations are expensive! There’s also a crazy pressure for my decorations to look like all the other perfect Christmas trees that I see on Facebook and Instagram. I did get our tree up and hung some stockings that I got at Hobby Lobby (for half off!), and that’s all the Christmas cheer we’re going to have in the Wallace household this year. I keep having to remind myself that my mother and grandmother have been collecting their Christmas decorations for years and that I can add to it year by year. This is our first Christmas together, and it’s okay for it not to be magazine worthy. The tree is small, and there aren’t many decorations on it, but I have to admit, it makes me smile. So it is good enough.
This is the “season of giving,” and it seems like everywhere I turn someone is expecting me to give them something. I like being generous, but I can barely afford to buy the gifts I want to get for the people on my list. Jeff and I love to give back to the community, and we try to do that on a regular basis, but in December it seems like our budget is stretched a little tighter than normal. We chose one charity to help, and we’re having to say no to the rest. It really makes me feel like a Scrooge to turn down worthy causes that I know are in need of funds to continue their good work in our community, but we had to draw the line somewhere. Again, I’m having to remind myself that it is okay. We’re doing our best, and the giving we are doing is done with joyful hearts, so that’s all that really matters. It’s good enough.
My list of gifts to buy for family and friends was grand until I looked at my actual Christmas budget. Now, they’re getting small, but thoughtful gifts. Part of me wants to feel guilty about that, because my friends and family are awesome and deserve so much more than I can give them. But, because they’re so awesome, they’re not going to care how much I spent. They will love the little things I got for each of them, because they love me.
I think my biggest problem is that Christmas has gotten so commercial and materialistic and competitive. Actually, I guess it always has been this way. Now, I’m just old enough to notice it.
I miss being a kid at Christmas, when everything seemed to be filled with magic. I wonder if I can ever capture that feeling again. I hope that I can.
This year, I want to enjoy the good parts of Christmas – spending time with family and friends and celebrating the birth of Jesus – and leave all that other commercial and competitive stuff behind. My number one goal for this month is to simplify my life and focus only on what is important.
December is always so busy and hectic, but this month, I want to slow down and enjoy every moment. I hope that you can find some time in your busy holiday schedule to do the same.