Friday, November 14, 2008

Contemplating Christmas

Christmas is sneaking up on me this year. To date I've done very little to prepare for the season. Tomorrow my mom, sister and I will be perusing the craft sales, and I must finally acknowledge that Christmas is right around the corner. I need to start planning.

That said, I feel I must share my true feelings (and I'm very sorry if this offends the people I love). I don't like Christmas. The season totally stresses me out. The gifts and events and glitter and busyness of Christmas leave me feeling overwhelmed. I find it all utterly exhausting. If Ben and I could whisk our family away to a tropical island for the last week of December, we would do it. We would totally escape the season.

Christmas feels so artificial to me, and I become more acutely aware of the blatant consumerism every year. It seems like Christmas is simply a grand marketing scheme designed to drive retail sales. Where can we find the true meaning of the season? Baby Jesus is lost at the mall somewhere, apparently. He's hiding under all the tinsel and fluff and fake plastic snow. Christmas has become all about stuff, stuff, stuff. It makes me feel horribly guilty to live in gluttonous North America.

Have I always felt this way? No. Strangely enough, I think my aversion to Christmas began when Ben and I started having children. The season became so much more stressful once babies joined our family. The stuff of Christmas got out of control. The expectations and anticipation of the season were blown out of proportion. (I am trying to tread lightly here. Please don't take this the wrong way.) Our children are very blessed because our extended families are very generous. The gifts our children receive are lovely and well-meaning. We are thankful, truly. But the stuff is overwhelming. Four children times dozens of gifts is a lot to digest. We don't need it all. We don't have space for all. The children get confused about the true meaning of the season (and Jesus sometimes gets lost in the shuffle).

Christmas is a busy time of year. We have Christmas concerts, church parties, family get-togethers, work functions, social obligations. The calendar fills up at an alarming rate. Our children are small and it's all quite tiring. Our family has been blessed with excellent health his fall. I'd love to keep everyone well-rested and healthy, and simply stick close to home. Last year our family was very sick through most of the winter. I think last year's exhausting trial has coloured my perception of this year.

Thus, at the moment I am feeling incredibly "bah humbug" about Christmas. I honestly wish we could skip forward to January. So far I've only purchased a few gifts for our children. I need to compile a more detailed shopping list, but am at a complete loss. I need to think about food and cards and decorations. What will we do for our extended family this year? How will we include the children? What will be meaningful and appreciated?

Ultimately, I want to keep Christ at the centre of Christmas. For the time being, all I feel is guilt over my crummy attitude. (Guilt and apprehension. My gut is full of rocks when I think about the looming season.) How can our family celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way? How can we create lovely memories and traditions for our children? How can we bless others during this season? How can we avoid getting caught up in hype and consumerism?

I don't really have any answers tonight, but I do feel better for getting my feelings out in the open.


Courtney said...

Easy solution: convert to Judaism. Lets face it, Hanukkah totally kicks Christmas' butt in terms of awesomeness, and the food alone is worth the switch-- mmmm....latkes.;-)

We should lament our crass materialist culture over a Starbucks Eggnog Latte sometime soon, I haven't seen you for ages!

Lindsay Inkster said...

lol. Absolutely.

Prairie Girl said...

I couldn't agree more. We are still trying to figure out how to keep Christmas under control. I think it will be a learning process. We are trying to limit one small gift per child. period. Not sure if it will work, as I know how Grandparents love to shower gifts on their grandchildren, but Christmas is for Christ, not consumerism. 'twill be a battle for sure!

The Nilsen's Journey said...

I appreciate your honesty! I guess I escape a lot of what you don't like about Christmas in focusing on all the great about this time of year. I think it's incredible how Christmas carols are played in so many stores (& I mean carols, the ones that ring out songs about Christ's birth), I love spending time with family & friends at this time of year - I find it brings us together, I love shopping for our operation Christmas child boxes - we have done this together, with our niece & nephew & now with our son, I love choosing a animal or two to give to a family in need through World vision....I love our nativity set that is our centre of all our decorations, I love going to Heritage Park & watching the Nativity pageant, I love giving to others...But, I don't have 4 children. I can understand the frustration of stuff. We had G's family party last night. He got wonderfully nice gifts, but has so many already for his current age. Do you know what I did...truthfully, I exchanged them both. At first I felt I couldn't, I would offend those who purchased them. But then I realized, there were some items he needs now more. Plus, they were extremely busy, loud toys which we had specifically requested not to be given. Anyways, just some thoughts.