Every Christmas I try to be like everyone else. Including gifts for everyone wrapped in delicate paper, tied with natural fiber string with a handmade label that’s sprinkled in bright glitter. The whole thing looking effortless. Fresh cookies in an antiqued cookie jar. A tree that looks like it flew out of the Williams and Sonoma catalog. The dining room table (non-existent in my home) set with beautiful heirloom china, delicate crystal glasses and brightly polished silver ware. A fresh wreath on the front door with a big red bow. Smells of pine mingled with the scent of fresh cookies and hints of orange and cranberry wafting through the house…
This year I announced on social media that ‘NO ONE IS GETTING CHRISTMAS GIFTS!!! NO ONE!!!!!!!!!”. It’s one week to Christmas day. I have no gifts bought. I leave in 36 hours to fly to my hometown to watch my best friend marry her long time friend (though both of them would agree they were frienamees for many of those years). I have a ticket to get there and no return ticket purchased. My life feels out of control.
And I stop and realize… control… since when have I had control of anything? I’ve thought I did. Mostly of my husband. But all wives know deep down they have no control over their man. When I sit down and let myself slow down I realize that I have no control and yet I’m still clawing for it. I still want it.
Especially at Christmas time. I want EVERYTHING to be PERFECT!! The reality of my home is that I have a wreath with a red bow on the front door. The stems on the poinsettia snapped off within an hour of bringing it home a few days before Thanksgiving. I can’t find the cord for my light up table top Christmas tree so I just decorated it anyway. With the ornaments I made into earrings a few years ago. Yes, my Christmas tree is a glorified earring holder. Well, was. The cat attacked the tree and I got tired of fishing my earring ornaments out of the litter box and picking the tree off the floor.
The table this tree was on is actually a 18″ x 18″ folding table. The only one in the home (which have I mentioned is an RV?). I pinned cloth Christmas napkins (which I was never going to use as napkins since I hate doing laundry) together to form the tree ‘skirt’.
At this moment 90% of my Christmas decorations are stuffed into a cloth reusable shopping bag (I know I’m not the only one who never actually uses those things for shopping) and sitting in the middle of the floor. Hey, the one string of lights are still up!!
That smell wafting through my home? Is not the country salt cured ham. It’s the litter box that I haven’t cleaned out in way to long. Except to take the toys and Christmas decorations out. The ham is sitting on the floor too. In its cloth bag. Where it’s going to stay until AFTER Christmas.
This morning I’m feeling stressed. Because I know I don’t have what it takes to create a beautiful Christmas of my childhood. There is no food, no decorations on a banister, no tree, no beautiful smells. In fact my husband keeps blowing out my pine scent candle. Which is fine because I have pine scent spray (which makes it smell like I have an 8 foot spruce in my home).
The reality is that if Christmas is going to happen in my home it’s not going to happen externally. We all know Christmas isn’t about gifts and food and pretty decorations. But we still try to make it all happen anyway. And while we do we usually fight with our loved ones about things no one actually cares about.
So I’m choosing to let go. To not cancel my dinner with dear friends, to go ahead and schedule a lunch meeting with someone I love, to pack up my few winter clothes and make sure I’m on time at the airport tomorrow night. To focus on letting Jesus hold me in the confusion and questions and self criticism. Mostly the self criticism.