I have a confession to make: I am a Grinch. I live in dread of this time of year and feel guilty because of it. Don’t get me wrong: I love Jesus and totally get that “He is the reason for the season.” As a child, I absolutely loved Christmas: the decorations, the music, the lights, the cookies, the tree, the visits from Santa, the reverence of our candlelight Christmas Eve service, the fun of opening gifts—everything held me in awestruck wonder. I appreciate now all my parents, and especially my mom, did to make the season magical.
But as I have taken on the role my parents played, I have found the season to be incredibly stressful, not magical at all. Mind you, I have nine children, three times that of my parents; so I could in good conscience multiply the amount of work I have to do at least that many times, plus even more now that we have enlarged our family, adding 7 sons and daughters-in-law and 12 grandchildren (as well as my parents who have moved in with us). While I’m writing this blog, I have a stack of end of term papers to grade for the college composition class I teach, long overdue edits on my books to complete so that they can be released as e-books, and then the usual Christmas litany of the annual letter to write and mail, the decorations to finish putting up, and the gifts to buy and wrap. I feel overwhelmed and stressed and not at all excited that Christmas is a little over two weeks away. Sometimes I almost wish we were Puritans who do not observe special holidays! But we are not, and for this reason, I’ve confessed that I’m a Grinch.
So, now that I’ve confessed, I have to ask myself: what can I do about this situation? How can I de-stress myself? This morning at our MOPS group, where I’m a mentor mom, we had a therapist and mother talk to us about abandoning our perfectionism. For me, her talk was timely, as I recognized that part of my problem is trying to replicate the wonder of my childhood Christmases and living up to some perfectionist ideal which I cannot possibly achieve. Our speaker encouraged us to give up unrealistic expectations. I have to face grading papers and getting my semester grades in since that is my job, but I should relax and give myself a break on all the other stresses, which are primarily self-imposed. I should recognize that I will never be able to decorate like Martha Stewart and our bank account won’t allow me to be extravagant in my gift giving. The Christmas letters may or may not be out on time this year. But most importantly, I shouldn’t allow my own anxieties or frustrations, Grinch-like, to steal other people’s joy.
Here’s hoping I can take a deep breath, concentrate on essentials, forget the nonessentials, and do the next thing God has put before me, not what I think should be done. And like the Grinch, I hope I can reform and allow my heart to grow three sizes in one day.
May “God bless us, every one!” Merry Christmas!