I posted a Christmas Eve entry last year, so I felt inspired to do the same this year.
And if you read last year’s, it might be slightly similar. But I thought it needed to be said again, or at least something close to it. So, here I am, drinking some Hazelnut hot chocolate with way too much whipped cream while Mr. and Mrs. Clause are hard at work downstairs.
Tonight in church, I noticed my mom seemed stressed. She’d seemed stressed all day, but it occurred to me that I should probably ask her what was wrong. “I’m fine,” she said. “I get like this every year at Christmas. I get so worried that I’m not getting y’all what you asked for, or I’m not giving y’all a good enough Christmas… I worry like this every year, it’s fine. I guess you’ve just never noticed.”
I felt bad that I had never noticed, but more than that, I felt bad that she worried that much about getting us enough for Christmas. I am so blessed in that my parents have always given us a great Christmas, and I’m so thankful for that. But more than anything, every year, they care. They care so much. But it makes me sad to know that they care so much that it stresses them out.
I’ve noticed it, now that I think about it, from all the moms I follow on Instagram. Everyone just seems so stressed. Everyone’s posting about needing lots of coffee and last-minute trips to Toys ‘R Us and stacks of boxes to wrap and running out of scotch tape and having to use duct tape and a whole mess of things that are just so stressful. I know how they feel, in a way; I got gifts for the kids I babysit this year, and it literally took me hours to decide on what to get them. I don’t know why – they’re little kids, they’d be happy with a can of silly string. But I guess I bought into this idea that it all has to be perfect. And yes, all you moms reading this, I feel you – it stressed me the heck out.
My favorite song this Christmas has been “Christmas Makes Me Cry” by Kacey Musgraves. Every song on that Christmas album is gold. But that one just hits me hard. (Listen to it. It’s so good. Link below, as always.)
No, it’s not because I’m walking around moping or crying about Christmas. I’m not some Grinch, mind you. But there is something about this time of year that, for whatever reason, just gets me down. And every year, I fight it so hard, and I tell myself, “No, I am not going to let myself be sad this year, I’m going to make this the best Christmas ever,” and I spend way too much money on presents and I drag my friends to look at every Christmas light display in Nashville with me and I re-learn all the words to Drummer Boy by Justin Bieber and I go ice skating and I make cookies and I just. go. all. out. And yes, I most certainly did all of these things this year too. But this year, I did something different than usual.
Last year, I came to the realization that I’m not the only one who, for whatever reason, starts to feel a little down around Christmastime. (In my post last year, I talked about that Jason Isbell line where he says, “I lost a good friend, at Christmastime, when folks go off the deep end”… who knew other people go off the deep end at Christmastime too?!) This year, I did all my usual Christmas rituals. I spent too much money on gifts and I went ice skating and I made cookies and I went all out, like I always do. But this time, I didn’t say it – I didn’t say those awful words: “I’m going to make this the best Christmas ever.” Because I realized that in saying that, I meant I was going to try to make Christmas perfect. And my dear, sweet friends, there is just no way. Christmas will never be perfect. Nothing will be. But let’s just be real for a sec. Families are together a lot at Christmastime. For most of us, that means arguments. (Lots of them.) People lose loved ones and have to experience their first Christmas without them. Fuses blow and Christmas lights go out on only half the house, tree- and angel-shaped cookies get put too close together on the tray and stretch and spread in the oven into one big blob of cookies all stuck together, ice skating ends badly and you fall and bruise half your body and then your friend runs over your fingers with her skates. (this didn’t happen to me, actually – a slight dramatization, for effect.) But my point is, Christmas is messy. No matter how perfectly we wrap it and how tightly we tie the bows and how nice our trees look with their *only white-and-gold ornaments* (if you’re one of those people)… things are still going to go wrong. And that’s something we all just have to accept.
So, that’s what I’ve tried to do this year – to accept that fact. That Christmas is messy. That’s not to say I haven’t tried to make it good, but I definitely haven’t tried to make it perfect. Instead of freaking out when everything doesn’t go perfectly, I’ve just kind of laughed about it. I did my makeup in the car on the way to church tonight. I would’ve liked to have spent an hour on it because of all the people I knew I’d see, but sometimes you just gotta roll with it. My family ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I would’ve liked to have had my aunt’s famous lasagna with all my cousins like we usually do, but we changed the plans this year and are celebrating on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve and things were different. I wish I could sleep in some cute, red and white PJs and wake up with my face looking refreshed and my eyes bright, but I’m sitting here in an old t-shirt and some semi-cute blue pajama shorts because I get hot when I sleep and I have a terrible cold so I know I’ll wake up looking like I got run over by a bus and stomped on by all its passengers. I spilled half my hazelnut hot chocolate on my blanket as I was writing this post for you sweet folks. (I don’t just mean Christmas is messy figuratively. It’s literal too, in my case at least.)
So if you’re like me and feel like your Christmas is a little messy right now, take a deep breath. You’re doing just fine. There is no rule that says Christmas has to be perfect. Embrace the messy and know that the Lord doesn’t expect any of us to be perfect – have we forgotten how He came on Christmas? He came in the humblest way possible: the Son of a 15-year-old virgin and a carpenter, born in a stable, on a bed of hay where animals ate their food. And here, we’re celebrating His birth by having a freakout if the gold wrapping paper we bought doesn’t match the silver washi tape we planned to decorate it with? That’s messed up, man. I don’t think that’s how Jesus wants us celebrating His birthday.
Let’s all take a collective deep breath, close our eyes, and thank the Lord that we’re alive and we’re doing okay and we have a Savior who loved us enough to come down to earth and live a much harder life than the ones most of us are living right now. Let’s tell Him we need Him, let’s hold onto Him if we’re having a rough time, and let’s hold onto Him if we’re not. Because I can tell you one thing – the last thing He wants us stressed about is His birthday.
Merry Christmas, my friends. I love you all, and I hope your Christmas is messy – in a really fun way. (If you don’t know what I mean, listen to this song. To me, this kind of Christmas sounds way better than a “perfect” one. (Merry Christmas From the Family – Montgomery Gentry)
God loves you SO much,