I have a confession to make.
I was not looking forward to Christmas this year. I wasn’t counting down the days until I could play carols in public. I wasn’t eagerly rearranging my furniture to make room for 16 boxes of decorations and a seven foot tree. I wasn’t making wish lists, thinking about new cookie recipes to try, or digging through the back of my closet for my Christmas themed shirts.
As a matter of fact, I was dreading it.
There, I said it. Dreading. It.
When invitations to Christmas parties, concerts, musicals, plays and family fun events started flooding in, I shuddered – not because I don’t love being invited or the people doing the inviting, but because I just wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready for all the things on top of the mountain of other things.
I didn’t want to search my computer for my Christmas card address list because I can never remember where I saved it. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle and mess of cleaning up ceramic snowmen that a certain two year old decided to throw against the wall. I didn’t want the extra traffic, the extra work or the extra expense.
I was Scrooge this year.
Or, as my husband would say, “Oh good golly, this moose was NOT jolly.”
It wasn’t until we were hauling all of the decorations out of the attic and I made a remark about not getting a real tree this year that I realized my inner grumbling had slipped past my filter and spilled out onto my kids.
Time froze. A lone jingle bell rolled forlornly down the stairs. The look of horror on my eight year old’s face would have been comical if it hadn’t been directed my way. My husband, because he’s smarter than the average bear, remained completely silent in the attic.
“No tree?” was the appalled whisper from a little girl in Christmas pajamas, with a mop of un-brushed hair covered by a too-large Santa hat.
As I looked into those big blue eyes, I didn’t feel an overwhelming flood of Christmas spirit. I didn’t suddenly want to sing Jingle Bells and watch A Christmas Story. I didn’t get the immediate urge to deck the halls and whip up some egg nog.
However, I did realize that I had a choice to make.
I could keep going the way I was. Putting on a brave face and trudging through the holiday. I could grudgingly go shopping, hang garland and put up lights.
Or, I could choose joy.
Not for myself, but for these four little ones that start talking about Christmas in January. For these kids that look at the tree and don’t see the dried needles falling off that have to be swept daily, but see the fun and experience of decorating it. They look forward to pulling out their baby ornaments and arguing over who puts the tree topper up.
They help hang Christmas lights on the house and don’t care about missing bulbs, tangled strands or blown fuses. They see the colors draped on the bushes, and giggle at the purple plastic ornaments hanging from the redbud by our mailbox.
They ask for stories about Christmas traditions when my husband and I were kids. They relive favorite gifts given and received, and speculate about what candy will be in the advent calendar tomorrow. They talk about whom we’re going to help this year and who is going to help us. They arrange and rearrange the nativity sets, and tell the Christmas story to their baby brother.
They’re not worried about hassle, mess and money.
They see joy, family and Jesus.
So even though there’s still a small element of “fake it till you make it” in my holiday prep this year, I’m going to choose joy for these kids. I’m going to sing carols, send cards and decorate cookies. I’m going to dance to Little Drummer Boy and rock out to Transiberian Orchestra. I’m going to continue the traditions that they love so much, and maybe a little of that Christmas spirit will start to come back for me.
So if you need me, I’ll be digging out those Christmas shirts from the back of my closet.