Hi, there. Sorry. I don’t mean to be a downer or anything. It’s just that I’m sort of a Christmas junkie…and I’ve spent the last month surrounded by glossy decorating magazines, and pretty pretty Pinterest pictures, and commercials with starry-eyed, wonder-filled children and I needed a gentle reminder that that is not the Christmas of My People.
My People do things like puke during Christmas plays. The preschoolers learn new and ridiculous words for private parts and share them with everyone during holiday meals. We put up our (fake) tree in mid-December and congratulate ourselves if it’s down by MLK Day. We make these thumbprint jam cookies:
We wait until 11pm Christmas Eve to put gifts together and end up jerry-rigging them because they came with parts missing and now everywhere that might have parts is closed (Yes. We know we should have started earlier. We know this is what we get for procrastinating. We have learned our lesson but we’ll probably do it again this year.)
We sometimes lose it and yell at our kids. On Christmas Eve.
One year, I did decorate a lovely mantle. A Pinterest-worthy mantle. On Christmas morning, in a crazed fit of festive frenzy, one of the kids raced down the stairs, grabbed his stocking, and brought the ENTIRE thing down. Garland. Glass ornaments. Twinkly lights. Ceramic angel. This is how My People do Christmas.
So my Christmas survival guide is this:
1.) Celebrate the not-obvious things. Like the kid who plays their piano recital and totally nails it because he worked so hard and practiced so much for this and this is his Moment. And also the kid who gets up, looks around like a hunted squirrel, and promptly forgets everything he ever knew…because he, too, worked so hard and practiced so much for this and he got up, terrified and brave, and put himself out there and that is good and you should be so proud.
And that one time we took the roundabout way home after a long, long day so everyone could look at Christmas lights.
And (a little? Maybe after coffee?) the early-Christmas morning wake-up because the blessing and the curse of it is that kids won’t jump on us at 5am forever.
And those little glimpses of eternity we get when we stop on our way inside and look up at the stars. Or the one night everything goes well and everyone snuggles up to read a book together. Something. There’s always something.
2.) Do what I do. I need to knit stuff, and bake cinnamon rolls, and get outside before I get cranky. You might need to bake, or watch a movie with the family, or run, or just desperately need a nap. Whatever it is you love and need to do — do it without feeling bad about the other stuff. And you know what? If decorating a Pinterest-lovely room or making a complicated meal involving braising or a reduction sauce or something is what fills your cup and floats your boat and makes you sing — do that. Then veg out in front of the TV or something. It’s cool. Let’s just all leave each other to do what we do with all our hearts because we’re all special flowers in God’s little garden, yes?
If it helps, the first Christmas was all wrong, too. A pregnant woman traveling way past what any self-respecting doctor would allow. No forethought for accommodations. Smelly. Dirty. Almost as if Someone knew we’d take this sort of event and make it about all kinds of things that didn’t matter and take the focus off the One Thing That Did — a baby and a love beyond anything we’ll comprehend.
I’m going to screw up at some point this Christmas. You likely will, too. It’s cool. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need one at all.