Tis' the season.
A stroll down the street greets you with busy shoppers consumed by lists and gift ideas.
Driving in your car opens you to a land of Christmas songs, beaten to their near death by Christmas spirit.
Hydro meters spin from 1000's of tiny lights that create beautiful magic against the snow.
Somewhere a granny is baking her favorite treats to fatten her family and keep them warm for the winter.
Grocery stores become a hellish nightmare, the express lane the only chance for freedom when grabbing a simple bag of milk.
Malls are lined up with last minute shoppers buying "original & unique" gifts that the 3 shoppers before already purchased.
Wrapping stations. Ribbons & bows. Excess & waste. Mail, cards, extra postage.
Stomping through forests to find the perfect tree. Trimming and creating. Lights & stars. Reds & greens.
Turkey dinner fills the air. Casseroles become competitive.
Traveling. Planning. Preparing.
And then when night falls on the 25th disappointment overwhelms because it's all done for another year.
All of our stress and worry and debt for what?
Dinner that was burnt? Ungrateful gift recipients? A pile of wrapping paper that will end up in the fire? Family disputes? Broken down cars on the side of the road? The dread of the credit card bills next month? Returns? The clean up?
This year has been jammed full of craziness for our family.
New jobs, pregnancy, family stress, heart surgery, financial stress, exhaustion, overwhelmed sensations and pure survival.
2011 will be memorable but not for the reasons I had hoped.
Christmas. I love it. It is my favorite time of year. The energy and the excitement, the surprises and parties.
Unfortunately this year my love has vanished.
Life has me beaten down. I wanted to forget about this season all together. No gifts, no decorations, no gatherings. I wanted to be left alone and forgotten .
I still kind of do.
Every other year I become consumed by joy. I get enveloped by the spirit of the season, stringing lights, making my spaces representative of the season. For weeks Christmas carols dance on my ears, I dress in festive colors, I plan, I wrap, I make my own bows. I throw parties, I bake seasonal desserts and festive cookies. I buy thought filled gifts and create surprises for my family. I wish people on the street a Merry Christmas, I donate money and toys. I sit in church and drink in the songs and the stories.
Not this year.
Previous years I was probably obnoxious with my celebration. I flaunted Christmas in the faces of people, who like me this year just don't care. I didn't do it because I was stressed and anxious or because I wanted to put on a show. I've never felt that way about Christmas before this year. I embraced the season because of its purity, the hope. I became a kid again excited about being with the ones I love, serving them with my creations, seeing their faces when they open the gifts that I labored over the whole year before. Christmas always had a freshness to it. Although our celebrations usually mirror each other every year, not one gathering was the same. We celebrated every year something new.
Not this year.
My heart is sad. I want to make Christmas exciting. I want to love it like I have in the past, but I can't. My gifts are bland. Thoughtless. That brings me to tears. This is my chance to show my friends, my family, my love and how I feel for them. Instead my gifts show them how I feel about life right now.
This season, although not what I pictured last Christmas that it would be, has been a learning experience. I'm on the other side of the fence and I'm understanding the sad faces on the street. I am learning why some go into hiding during the season. Why some state their claim of hatred toward the whole spectacle. It all makes sense this year.
Amidst all my doom and gloom their have been magical moments that remind me of my love of Christmas. Receiving cards from family and friends, reading about their life and how they have been blessed this year. Having friends give warm hugs and wishes of a Merry Christmas. Receiving unexpected gifts that bring tears to a grateful heart. Seeing the excitement in my sons eyes when he saw the Christmas tree for the first time.
There is hope.
My reason for loving Christmas isn't gone, it's tainted, but I am thankful that I have caught the eye of the reason why I fell in love with Christmas in the first place.
But when the purity of Christmas is removed the season becomes all those things I listed before. It's excessive, it's pointless. We pile responsibility on ourselves that is unnecessary and unattainable. We stress, we get anxious, we overextend our means. We create hardship for ourselves to be able to say we have met the standard of the holiday. We become fake to try to make people happy.
This year I feel fake. I am not in my celebratory skin but my feelings are very real. Instead of going forward to make others happy I'm staying true to my heart. I refuse to pile more anxiety and stress on my life.
I can't wait to take the tree down. I can't wait until this Christmas is but a hand full of memories and the rest forgotten. I pray my hurt does not taint my sons excitement. I pray he finds his own joy in this holiday. I pray that at the end of it all I can say "I'm glad I celebrated."