For a while, I blamed the fact that when we were first married, Jason and I had far different expectations of the holiday. I do think this colored my holiday perceptions.
But lately I've come to a realization. I think what ruined the holidays the most were the tremendous expectations I placed upon myself. If I couldn't have a house decorated to Southern Living quality, why decorate? If I didn't bake exceptional confections like the ones in all of the magazines, why make holiday treats? I set up these unrealistic expectations for myself and then was discouraged when I didn't meet them.
Over the years, I've reached a peace about Christmas. I've accepted my abilities and limitations. I've decided to do what's fun for us and skip the rest. My home isn't decorated like Martha Stewart, and nothing I cook will grace the pages of a magazine. But we have some fun together as a family. We have traditions that my kids look forward to.
And even though Christmas isn't Jesus's real birthday, we use some of our traditions to draw our focus to worship Him.
So, while I still like this post, and I still do think many of these same thoughts, I am in a better place than I was two years ago. I am not going to be bound by others' expectations. I'm going to do Christmas with my family. We're going to have our own traditions. We're going to love each other. We're going to worship God.
I have a confession to make. I don't like Christmas very much. I've never been one to put up tons of decorations or to listen to Christmas music for the whole month of December. I do try to be a little Christmassy (is that a word?) for the kids, but I think even they know I'm not always into it.
I've been analyzing why I don't particularly care for all the Christmas trappings for the past few years. Here's what I've come up with so far:
1. Christmas is NOT Jesus's birthday. Let's have a little history lesson. Jesus (according to historical documents about when the Roman census took place) was probably born in the spring. Christians adopted pagan winter holidays and decided to celebrate Christ's birth during that time of year, so that they could have a holiday that wasn't pagan. In fact, no where in the Bible are we even told to celebrate the birth of Christ. Although Christ Himself tells us to remember His death. (Luke 22:17-19)
2. Christmas in our culture no longer means sweet family traditions and a happy celebration in the cold of winter. It has become a beacon of materialism. Stores put out decorations and sell gifts beginning in October now. No matter what cliches we might say- "It's the thought that counts."- based on time and money spent, we can tell it really is about what you get (or how much you give).
So, where does all this pondering leave me? I'm not sure. I am in a family and in a church and in a community that has a different view of things than I do. Quitting Christmas may not be the most realistic option considering those around us. So, how do I reconcile what I'm thinking with what we actually do? I'm still finding out. I'm still testing the waters. Our celebration of Christmas changes and evolves from year to year around our house.