It's no secret that Christmas is not my favorite time of year.
Through no fault of her own, my mother hated Christmas, and we all knew it. My father didn't help with Christmas. He didn't know what we kids were getting until we opened the presents. He never addressed a Christmas card or baked a cookie.
Honestly, I don't know if he was any different from any other man of his generation. Heck, he was not all that different from many men of my generation.
My problem with Christmas is partly my upbringing, and mostly self made.
I put stress on myself to have the perfect Christmas.
Everyone must get exactly what they asked for--the 'big' present. No one should be disappointed. There should be an abundance of cookies and the perfect Christmas letter (not too perfect, not too whiny) in each card. I should attend and participate in all activities at church and in my personal life that pertain to Christmas. The tree should be decorated with reminders of our lives. Everyone should participate in the decorating---and be happy about it. I shouldn't want to hurry through the Christmas story on Christmas morning so the kids can open their gifts. Jesus is the reason for the season, after all. I should have a cheery disposition from Thanksgiving through January 5th. I should take down the tree and decorations and revel in the perfectness of another Christmas.
All that the list above involves is stress. You know why? Because it is IMPOSSIBLE. There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas. Any event that involves several people and gifts and priorities will never, ever, be perfect. Someone has to do the work--often alone. Someone will be disappointed.
Think back to any wedding, birthday party, or even family vacation that you've attended. Someone was unhappy. Someone was disappointed. Someone did not find the event to be uplifting. Someone was stressed.
So, I should give myself a break. I should give my family a break and not pass along my drama like my mother, unwittingly, did. I have a much, much better chance at it because of Lee.
He loves Christmas. He shops knowing that things will be returned. He addresses cards knowing that we may not receive a card in return. He bakes without caring about the mess. He puts up the tree knowing that our teenagers would rather be 1,000 other places. He reads the Christmas story out of the bible on Christmas morning, knowing that our kids aren't really listening. He doesn't volunteer for every Christmas function. He wraps presents until 2 am if that's what it takes.
In short, he doesn't stress. He takes the good with the bad. He takes the whining with the laughter.
This year he has done 99.9% of the shopping. I am working on stocking stuffers and stressing (surprise!) over the one person I have to shop for---Lee. He doesn't want anything. Well, he wants some things, but nothing out of the ordinary. I can't think one thing that would make him think, "Wow, she really thinks I'm special." I so want him to think he's special. He does so much for me and our family. He's taken all the stress out of Christmas for me. I really think he hung the moon and want him to know it.
So, what do you get the man who has everything? I'm working on it.
I'm also working on not expecting too much out of this time of year. I'm working on finding that place in me that remembers that Christmas is ultimately the celebration of God's gift to us.
Not our gifts to others.