Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not Just Surviving Christmas

This is pretty darn long. So most of you should probably skip reading this post. But while you are here, notice the cute picture in the heading. It is a birdhouse that my son Lane made for me. I love it! I was asked why I have a hard time with Christmas and this is my answer. I know sometimes family and friends don't really want to hear about someone disliking Christmas. I can understand how it can put a damper on their Christmas. So I really do try to pretend that I feel otherwise. But I am a horrible actor so those who are closest to me aren't fooled a bit. It's not like Christmas is just a day. I could handle just a day. It is a whole long season!

I don't want to feel that way about the time of year we celebrate Christ’s birth. I have been working on trying to change how I feel about the Christmas season for the last few years. It's not easy but every year it gets better. Maybe one day I will actually look forward to it. Right now I am just happy enough to learn to survive it enough to get through it. And then finally January comes around and I can breathe a big sigh of relief.

I know it is quite common for some people to feel blue during the holiday season. I’m not normally a blue person. I am almost always happy, even when I am under stress. But I have had problems with how Christmas makes me feel. I don’t really know when I went from enjoying Christmas to getting sick about it. I didn’t notice it happening. A part of it may be because I have had a hard Christmas or two over my lifetime. Maybe I have some leftover feelings from then. But that is only a tiny part of it, because now my life is fabulous and has been for a while. And it keeps getting better and better. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Except to maybe add even more grandkids!

It’s taken me a couple of years to finally figure out why I dislike Christmas. And that has helped me to make changes so that every year gets better and better. I used to think it was only from lack of time and the fact that it costs too much. These are problems. I am a busy person during normal times of the year. Then you add Christmas to it with trying to juggle your job and family obligations too. There are work parties that we should go to (for political reasons) for both me and my husband. There is shopping to do, decorating the tree, decorating the house, putting up lights, wrapping presents and visiting loves who I want to see, but don’t know when I can fit in the time. It is easy to become overwhelmed. And Christmas does cost way too much.

Then there are the traditions. Who doesn’t love Christmas Traditions? Some are traditions that my mom did when I was a kid and she was a stay at home mom, Some traditions I had when I was a stay at home mom, and some are from my husband’s family that I have tried to keep up with too. I love these traditions. I enjoy them. I didn’t want to stop doing them. I remember how enjoyable they made Christmas in past years. Some of the traditions that I have tried to keep up with are making handmade cards, or even just sending out store bought cards, baking cookies or other goodies, seeing the lights around town or at Temple Square, stringing popcorn and cranberries for the tree, making gingerbread houses, making homemade decorations and having parties for extended family. Oh my gosh! No wonder I am sick about Christmas. Where is the Christ? Isn’t that what Christmas is really about?

So to improve my outlook on Christmas, I am in the process of making big changes. I have been in this process for a few years now. These changes are not so easy to make, and every year I get a little bit better at it. It's not like I can just stop doing all things related to Christmas. That would be sad too. I just have to be more picky about what I do. I decided a couple of years ago I really needed to simplify my Christmas. At least for the time being, I have given up on most of the traditions that I don’t really have time for. I may start them up again when I can, maybe when I retire. I still do some things. Like this year I am making a handmade thing for some friends and family for Christmas. Other years I may not do this and I will do something else.

But the biggest change for me is to get closer to my Savior. For the last few years I have also been trying to put more Christ in my Christmas. I have found that it is easier said than done. It’s hard to put Christ in your life if you don’t know Him very well. I knew the story of Christmas. I knew, or at least thought I knew about Christ. But that really isn’t enough. I needed to get closer to Him. To start doing what I know He wants me to do to get back to him and my Father in Heaven. I was inactive for many years. And for years I felt that I was missing something. I was missing the biggest reason why I was here on Earth. I felt like I needed to get back to doing what I knew was right.

I have made changes to how I live. It can be hard to be LDS. But I know the church is true. I know the reason I am here. And I know I am happier when I do. I have more peace, even during the unavoidable stress of life. I have been starting to get closer to my Savior, and to understand more of what he did for me. I have a long way to go still, I am sure it is a lifelong journey. But I am working on it still and will happily be able to do it for the rest eternity.

I am happy to say that this year is the first in a long time that I can actually say I am starting to feel Merry during the Christmas Season. And this year I am not just pretending to be. It is starting to feel good. I still can't say I look forward to the Christmas season. That may never happen. My stomach only slightly aches when I think of the holiday season. I am not nearly as stressed, I don't miss traditions that I don't need, and thanks to the scary economy, we are spending so much less!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you can feel the peace and love of our Savior in your Christmas season too.


YbsisKaren said...

My goodness that is a healthy look at your troubles. I understand your thought completely. It's tough when no one in your family thinks abt Christmas in ways other than pagan. I, too, grew up with traditions. I started my own thinking my family would remember then. Unfortunately, they didn't think of the season like me and didn't catch on to the traditions. Luckily, I am going HOME to be with the family that does celebrate Christ's birth and continues the same family traditions I grew up with. Warm hugs for when you need one.

Katrina said...

Yes I guess it is. But I really don't have any troubles. All is good, and getting better.

Traci said...

I am glad to hear things are turning up for you and Christmas time. I remember you saying that you weren't a huge fan.
I am with you that it is hard to be LDS at times. And I too need to work on connecting better with my Savior too. So thanks for your outlook.

Sondra said...

I love you Baby! I'm glad that you put that into words, and I'm glad that it's a little better this year. I can't wait to see you all soon. I love you so!

erika said...

I know how you feel.So that's why we just try to make things simple.There is already to much going on.I feel like I am going in circles.(since the move).
I know its kinda sad but my family did easy things when I was a kid.
So this year I cut out things like no neighbors gifts,simple gifts.They only get 3 gifts like the wise men.
When there less going on? Its easier to focus on christ!

Deb-t said...

AMEN sister! I actually loved reading this post. It is so true that most of us just get caught up in all of the busy-ness of the season and we can completely forget the reason for ALL OF IT!
Thanks for posting this and for uplifting me. I am encouraged to make this a more Christ centered season.
Love you!

Val said...

First of all, awesome picture of the birdhouse in the snow! Beautiful! And I agree, there is a lot of hub-bub that comes with Christmas that is too much! We have tried simplifying too, and to teach our children about why we have Christmas, rather than what they are going to get. Easier said than done, but I love the spirit of it all, and hope you enjoy more of it this year! Great post, my dear!