I used to run Christmas like a CEO runs a large company. There were spreadsheets and I carried a Christmas planner with me at all times. I had pages for under-the-tree gifts, stocking gifts, a cookie baking list, the Christmas card list, party planning lists, menu planning, grocery lists, …
Just baking all the cookies took me well over a month. There were hand-shaped marzipan cookies, teddy bear cookies, peanut butter cups, miniature pecan tarts and at least ten other complicated delicacies.
Plus, I had the final say on the tree we chose. It had to meet my exacting standards. And, I put the lights on myself because no one else could do it “right”. I also made sure the ornaments were hung in a certain pattern.
I spent a LOT of time making sure all the gifts were equal for each family member because I didn’t want anyone to feel less loved.
I bought different boxes of Christmas cards and matched each person on my list with a card that best suited their personality. Then, I wrote and printed a Christmas letter AND wrote a personal note in each card.
And, on Christmas day, I made a complete breakfast of veggie omelets, bacon and sweet rolls and then turned around and baked a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for dinner.
Add to this the fact that I worked retail while I was doing all this. If you haven’t worked retail during the holidays, count yourselves blessed. It’s exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally.
And, I kept all this up for years. Because to me what I was doing was the definition of love and I couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t put as much effort into Christmas as I did.
I wish I could say that I had a sudden epiphany and realized that I had to change my ways. Instead, I remember saying to God, “You know I love you, I just can’t take time to worship you in the way I should right now, I’ll do it in January.” And, Moms, I felt that was a perfectly rational statement to make! I was completely exhausted, something had to give and I chose the wrong thing to let go of.
Have you noticed that the really important lessons God wants to teach us often come from a broken place? Illness finally cured me. As I became more and more disabled, I was forced to let go. I don’t know if I ever would have changed otherwise.
This year my husband and son went and cut down the tree and I wasn’t even there. It’s probably not the one I would have chosen if I had gone, but it makes me smile because they chose it. My daughter came over and hung the lights and ornaments and I love seeing where she decided to put each one.
Two of my grandkids came over and unwrapped the other decorations. They were so excited and happy and I was able to drink in their enthusiasm. No, they did not put things where I would have, but seeing the joy on their faces made everything seem perfect.
It was actually my kids’ idea to draw names for gifts. I balked at first but I was surprised to find what a relief it was to just buy for two people. And, I did most of my shopping from bed in my PJs.
In recent years, I’ve had to throw out most of the cookies I’ve baked because half of my kids are gluten-free and all of them are careful with what they eat. So, the month-long cookie baking sessions are gone for good. And, on Christmas day, there is no Christmas feast. Instead, I make sure I have high quality meats and cheeses on hand and everyone just makes themselves sandwiches whenever they get hungry.
I’d love to take the credit for finally coming to my senses. But, as usual, it was God who gently herded me onto a better path. Now, instead of running myself ragged, I am lighting Christmas candles and enjoying the scents. I am listening to Christmas carols and really hearing the words. And, I have time to rest and drink in the joys of the season.
And, none of my family feels any less loved. In fact, I’ve been shocked to find that they enjoy the changes as much as I do.
The Christmas CEO has retired. And, everyone is happy she did.