“I don’t remember seeing commercials growing up where people gave each other cars for Christmas.” Such were the words I heard as I turned to see the bemused thirty-something commenting on how the holidays might be getting a bit out of hand. I had to admit, she had something there. It’s supposedly the season of giving and of joy, but how often we hear, or are even personally reminded about, how lonely and difficult the holidays can actually be.
If a loved one has passed away this year, their absence will be sorely felt at the holiday table. Some have experienced the loss of a relationship. Many have lost jobs. I personally know some folks that have had a difficult and painful 2009. “What’s there to celebrate?” they might rightfully ask. You know, good question. It depends on what they celebrate at Christmas. And why.
When I thought it over a bit, I realized that regardless of situations, the expectations of the season (whether real or imposed) not only seem to be upon us, they seem to build with each passing year. Once again, the questions are raised: what are we truly expecting in return this holiday, and, why are we really doing this?
How did we get from the story of a baby in a manger with angels and shepherds to fruit cakes, cookie and gift exchanges, travel plans, decorating, shopping, wrapping and more? When, too, did we come to feel that the season owes us happy memories, warm conversations and amazing gifts? If you ask me, isn’t that just a bit much to put on one simple day out of 365 every year? It’s something to consider.
What if we simply allowed Christmas to be little more, well, simple this year? Or, perhaps, what if we not only cut ourselves some slack, but our expectations as well. You know like, let Uncle Joe tell that corny joke, and expect Aunt Martha to make that inappropriate comment. Accept the fact that Bob and Linda may start an argument at the table right after you bow to give thanks. And if your sister does insist on bringing that one special dish she feels you all can’t live without, so be it. What if that person you were counting on doesn’t propose to you and produce the ring? What if that gift isn’t the right size, color or style? Or, what if you really don’t get much in the way of gifts this year at all? Will it truly be the end of the holiday spirit as we know it? Will it really spoil the entire day?
I guess it boils down to: what are you celebrating this season? And why? Is it a chance to get off work and hit that resort? Is it lights, and tinsel and Santa Claus? Is it carols and food and that notorious office party? Or is it, perhaps, something a bit more.
Only you know the answer to that question. Let’s take a moment to ponder it together this December, shall we? Maybe putting the Merry into Christmas needs to be something we take a fresh look at this time around. Who knows. Maybe I’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life too many times over the years. Or, maybe, just maybe, we’re on to something here.
Wishing you even a little Merry this Christmas. Regardless of what has been, is, or what is to come.
Just my thoughts.