With great anticipation I began writing my last blog post before Christmas. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to share, but my head was filled with images of shiny bows and ribbons, cherub faced kiddos giggling with new toys in hand, heads being thrown back in sync with roaring laughter, eyes filled with joyful tears and arms outstretched to receive warm embraces.
And then I wondered how often this actually plays out.
Are these images indicative of family celebrations everywhere, or are those same gatherings overrun with rude, opinionated people, broke, exhausted parents, stressed out hosts and ungrateful guests?
To be fair, there are probably lots of both, and even more likely, most get-togethers have a combination of each.
With Christmas, though, there’s a lot on the line. It only comes around once a year and it IS to celebrate a pretty important occasion after all. It occurred to me that instead of just sharing my vision of the joys of Christmas, I would do a better service by giving my best tips for making sure that joy actually has a darn good chance of showing up.
So, with that being said, and a little dose of tongue-in-cheek reverse psychology, here’s my list for the Top 10 Ways to Ruin Christmas:
10. Expect everything to be perfect. Work up a good dose of anxiety before any functions and get-togethers you’re hosting and beat yourself up if the outcome is anything but perfect. You certainly don’t want to disappoint anyone or look like an incompetent amateur, so be sure to stress yourself out over every detail possible.
9. Wait until the last minute to go shopping. Be sure to honk mercilessly at the cars in front of you that are waiting to get a parking spot. Harass the sales clerks when merchandise is out of stock because truly, somehow they MUST be responsible. Be sure to roll your eyes and tut in exasperation when lines to the checkout stands are moving too slow for your liking or when people are making large purchases.
8. Invite people to your home out of obligation and then complain when they irritate you as much as they have every other year when you swore you’d never invite them again.
7. Allow guilt to be your guide when RSVP’ing to invitations and requests. Say YES when you know you should be saying NO. Afterwards, kick yourself silly and chastise yourself for being so dumb to waste your limited, precious, personal resources on something you KNEW would bring frustration and regret.
6. When you attend holiday functions which you actually WANT to be at, allow your to-do list to continue to cycle around in your head, completely distracting you from being present and sabotaging any chance you have of joyfully engaging. Leave everyone wondering ‘where your head’s at’ and cause them to worry (and talk!) about you.
5. Finance your Christmas gifts. This will allow you to go above and beyond expectations and be the hero. More gifts = a better Christmas. If you’re divorced, this is particularly important. You want your child to like YOU best, right? What better way to win their affection than with gifts? And when it comes right down to it, you have a whole 11 months to hopefully pay it all off, so what’s the problem?
4. Keep track of how many gifts your parents bought you or your children, or at least how much they spent, and then compare it to what they did for your siblings or nieces and nephews. Honesty is the best policy, so if you feel you’ve been slighted, be sure to bring it to their attention ASAP, preferably on Christmas. How can someone fix a problem if they don’t know what it is? You’ll be doing them, and your relationship, a favor.
3. Run yourself ragged if that’s what it takes to get Christmas done. If you miss meals, no problem. Those few pounds lost will come in handy when you eat to excess on Christmas Eve / Day. And if you gain weight? There’s always the annual New Year’s Resolution which will take care of it. While you’re at it, stop working out. There’s no time to waste with healthy activities. Not sleeping well? That’s just the price you pay for pulling off a great Christmas. What’s a few weeks of exhaustion for an amazing end result? You will be more loved if you sacrifice yourself for the good of the team.
2. Don’t leave any wiggle room in your travel plans. Time is of the essence, so squeeze out every second possible. There’s something to be said about the thrill of living on the edge. You haven’t lived until you’ve run through an airport terminal screaming, “Hold the plane! Don’t close the door!!” or felt excitement like hearing your name over the paging system as you wait for a stand-by seat to become available.
And the #1 Way to Ruin Christmas…
Don’t focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Most people don’t anyway, so why worry about it? You’re a good Christian the rest of the year, so missing church to prepare for Christmas shouldn’t be a big deal. Jesus isn’t going anywhere, and he knows you love him, so if he’s on the backburner while you tend to your family and friends on his birthday, no harm done, right?
Are you laughing? Wincing? Feeling Challenged?
Where does a list such as this come from? Unfortunately, my personal experience. Each year I try to knock another problem area off of my list and sharing these sorts of reminders with you helps keep myself in check as well. Thank you for allowing me to indulge!
It’s easy to get caught up in the unimportant and swept away by the rush, BUT, the celebration is in Christ and the true joy will come when we allow the rest to either disappear, or at least take their rightful spot behind Jesus.
Wishing you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. May the day bring an appreciation for the gift of eternal salvation and the joy of unconditional love. Take a moment and thank God for answered prayers and promises never broken. And most of all, relax and enjoy every second! Love you all!