29 Nov Get the Holidays over with…
“Part of me is so excited for the holidays,” said a client of mine a few weeks back. “And part of me just wants to open my eyes on January first and have it be over.”
I cocked my head at that. Wish away the most wonderful time of the year? How absurd!
The Christmas lights shining in my children’s eyes, the smell of Mimi’s German butter Christmas cookies wafting from the oven, and cuddling up by the fireplace to watch the old classics on TV. Downtown Glens Falls all decorated in bows and lights, the ceremonious community tree-lighting, and caroling with friends to surprised, unsuspecting neighbors.
The disappointment when Santa doesn’t bring as much as anticipated, the annoyance when the grandparents go overboard with noisy plastic toys, the lack of downtime in the midst of cold and flu season. The compulsive list-making, the credit card bills, the too-long Santa line, the cookie-making backache, and the awkwardness when somebody gives you something and you have to throw a candle in a gift bag when their back is turned so you don’t commit the worst holiday felony: The unreciprocated gift.
Holiday stress is an old trope, as famously recorded in Bob Rivers’ spoof, the 12 Pains of Christmas, an old favorite in the Austin family — and in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the go-to holiday movie in the Avon family.
Another client of mine said, innocently enough, “How are you?”
And I said something like, “Okay, enough, as anyone can be in this world where California is just — on fire.” (Somehow I continue, with this kind of upbeat attitude, to have clients.)
We had a moment of silence before she asked me, “What are we even doing in front of this computer? It seems so trivial.” I responded, “We’re trying to make our little corner of the world better.”
It’s true. That’s all we can do. Under stresses, both big and small: We donate. We vote. We pray. And we try to make our world a better place in ways that we can touch.
That includes making the holidays magical for the little ones. In a world that’s falling apart around us, all we’ve got is this moment to hold on to and make special.
My grandmother Mimi shared a quote with me on Facebook: 1st Corinthians 13 (A Christmas Version), by Sharon Jaynes, that I think is worth sharing here, because it really hit home for me:
If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family – I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family – I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family – it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.