Friday, December 21, 2012

Imperfect and Stress Free Christmas?

The holiday season is here. It's a strange time for me. I process so many different thoughts and emotions and I just don't know what I really believe in. 

I was raised in a Jehovah's Witness home. Well, up until I was 8. I had my first Christmas then. I never really felt that I missed out on anything by not having Christmas, but my brother and sister probably did. They were older, I was pretty young when it all changed. I never knew the fascination with Santa or the anticipation of gifts. For my first Christmas, I had to learn to keep my beliefs to myself and pretend to believe in Santa for my step-brothers. That was strange.

Now, I have children of my own. I openly admit that I go overboard at this time of year. Perhaps making the holiday more magical for my kids, makes it more magical for me as well. Yes, Santa visits our house every year and the kids are all excited right now. I look forward to Santa's visit just as much as they do. But, it's different.

Santa isn't about the naughty or nice list in my house. Santa isn't a creepy stalker that watches them while they sleep. Santa, and the Spirit of Christmas, is all about selfless acts. This is the time of year that we give without expectations, in fact we don't go seeking credit for any of the gifts we give. This is the time of year that I might buy coffee for the guy behind me in the drive thru more. This is when I will go out of my way to snuggle on the couch past bedtime, just to let the kids watch that Christmas special that is on at the worst time ever. (Who really thinks that it's right to START the show at bedtime?? Darn TV networks!) 

Santa gives. To everyone he can. And it's not just about necessities, it's the luxury items that we don't get through the year. It's a reminder that everyone deserves a little bit of happiness. We can be serious and hard working all year, but at Christmas we take time to enjoy the extras. 

My kids are spoiled. They rarely want for anything and I am thrilled that it can be this way now. It hasn't always been. But, my kids also understand money. They work for things they want. They know that we can't just shell out cash at every store, every day. They understand priorities and can sort needs from wants. They are smart, and because they normally don't whine for things, they get a lot more given to them. They are spoiled, but not spoiled brats.

Christmas isn't commercial here. Christmas is about the family time. One of the best things, the thing that the kids and I enjoy and remember most each year, is that Christmas day is the only day where we purposely try to stay at home in PJ's all day. We could rush out right after presents to visit everyone in the family, squeeze in multiple dinners at relatives. But we don't. Christmas day is mine. Instead of tearing into gifts and tossing them aside to leave, perhaps rush off to the next house and next set of gifts, we play. We share. We giggle. We build. We watch movies or sing songs. We savour the morning. We love when people come to visit us too, but it's really the only day of the year that we all try to just stay home and stay together. 

Macboy is almost 13. I know I don't have much of this time left. Soon, he'll want to go to friends or (yikes!!) even girlfriends homes.... So I will enjoy every second I can.

I don't think I could give up Christmas and go back to the religion I was raised, but I do know that I don't celebrate Christmas like anyone I know. Except my brother and sister, they are pretty close too. We're different and we're all okay with it. 

This year really proves it all. It is almost Christmas Eve and my tree still isn't decorated. In fact, we just picked it up a few days ago. We've got only half of our decorating done and about 3/4 of our baking done. I still even have shopping to do!! This has got to be the most imperfect and disorganized holiday we've ever had in this house. But, oddly, I think this is the most peaceful holiday I've experienced so far. I am not frustrated or stressed about being behind. We've had a lot of fun that has taken our time away. Why force things to happen in a certain way? 

Who cares what your tree looks like if the kids love it. Who cares if you even have a tree at all! Not one person has come into my house and said "Wow, you haven't done that yet?!?!?" Truthfully, everyone here is just waiting for the time off from school and work! We will finish everything just in time for the Big Man. And he won't decide to leave less in the stocking because I have less decorations up.

My gift to you, to anyone who reads these words, is a reminder that Christmas isn't about rushing or stressing, it is not about getting gifts or buying expensive stuff, it's not even about charity and giving to the less fortunate. Christmas, my dear friends is about love and sharing. So, stop stressing. Start loving. Bake imperfect cookies WITH your kids. Forget the nitpicky village on the mantel - you know the one, that big thing with fake snow that gets dragged all over the house, the one with the awesome looking pieces that the kids aren't even allowed to PLAY with - who will judge you for not putting it up? Volunteer or donate somewhere because you love your neighbour, not because you need to 'give back.'

Put yourself in a giving mood, look through the eyes of your children and remember what really matters right now. It's all the same things that are important year round.

So breathe.... and embrace imperfection. 
That's what makes it all special!.

Enjoy your holiday.

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