Thursday, December 14, 2006

A lump of coal?

Christmas. It should be a wonderful time of year. So, why is it so often the most miserable time of year? I have often wondered about this.
Norman Rockwell bliss. Oh, how high our expectations are! Each year hope springs eternal that no matter how many times we have been disappointed in the past this will be the year of the Perfect Holiday. Why do we keep setting ourselves up to fail? Even in my quest to simplify this year, I find the myriad of things I have to do really puts a damper on my spirits. Why is it that the holidays have to be so darn stressful? I know all the typical answers. And all the psychological answers. But I saw a quote this morning that was interesting and put a little different spin on the answer.

"An old abbot was fond of saying, ‘The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.’

"The supreme trick of old scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim's Almanac

Thanks Darla, for posting this on your blog.

Yes, the stress is real. The exhaustion is there. We push, and push, and do, and do, until we snap at friends and family. We find ourselves cranky, and depressed, with hurt feelings and, often times, anger. The joy is not there. I for one don't want to smile one more smile, or wish one more person a Merry Christmas. I can't eat one more cookie, wrap one more gift, or go to one more concert. I don't want to know if your Christmas shopping is done, and why do you really care if mine is? It's just meaningless conversation. And it's only December 14th.

It makes me think of Martha and Mary. Martha, who was busy doing, and Mary, who was sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning and worshiping and just being. I think most of us are Martha's this time of year. I wish I could learn to be Mary. I want to be Mary. I'm tired of being Martha. I'm tired of running myself ragged in the pursuit of perceived expectations, that picture perfect result, in order to fulfill some unspoken rules of the holidays.

There are things I am still excited about. Being home for Christmas instead of traveling. Being with my church family on Christmas Eve. Being part of a Christmas celebration and dinner for people in the community who are in need. Baking Cookies with friends.
The soft glow of lights on a tree. Cinnamon. Peppermint. Hot Chocolate. Coffee with a friend. Good conversation. Family together - just us, not extended.

In a way, the tension between what I am excited about, and what depresses me is harder to deal with than just being totally scroogy. Being conflicted internally hurts. I just turned off the Christmas music - it's driving me crazy. Hmmmm, this is a totally rambling, crabby, irritable post. Sorry. I've tried twice today and come up with nothing but cynicism and bad cheer. I almost deleted them, but decided to just let 'em be. After all, it took about 3 weeks longer to hit this point than it did last year! Then when things are good - when my world tilts the other way, I'll have even more reason to celebrate. And more to be thankful for.
Right now, I just wanna take a nap.

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