Surviving Christmas

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As a “good” Catholic mom, I should be writing a post about the true meaning of Christmas.  I should be writing about how I am teaching my children about giving rather than taking.  I should write about spending more time praying than shopping.  I should write about growing in faith rather than growing in debt.  However, I would be misleading you.  As usual, I am an anxiety-filled shell of a woman hunkering down in her Christmas cluttered home, furiously wrapping countless presents from another budget busting Christmas shopping disaster while yelling at her sugar hyped-up children as they fight over God knows what.  Yep, I’m a mess.  And the fact that I am such a mess in a season where I should be preparing for our Lord makes it that much worse.

Although I love my fellow Catholic bloggers, I cannot STAND to read their “true meaning of Christmas” ramblings.  Yes, I know the true meaning of Christmas.  I know that it is a season of giving and finding joy and peace in that giving.  I know it is a season of preparing to welcome our Lord into this world.  But, I am convinced that these people who give us this wealth of information and Christmas season advice either don’t have children and families or are heavily medicated.  Here, in this day and age, Christmas has taken over EVERYTHING- from the coffee at Starbucks to the music in the dentist’s office.  And although it is great that such a large number of people in our society celebrate this season, Christmas has become something bigger than we can contain or control.  Christmas is that bull no cowboy hopes to draw.  All you can do is get on and pray you make it to the 25th.

As I was driving today in the lovely holiday traffic trying not to call the person who nearly took out my front end a word I did not want my four year old to repeat, I was thinking about how hard it is to find balance in this season.  We are called to be in the world but not of the world.  How do we do that during Christmas?  How do I not let the anxiety of shopping in an over-crowed mall get the best of me?  How do I figure out which social events to attend and which to pass up in favor of family time?  How do I teach my kids that the exciting part of Christmas is the arrival of Jesus and not Santa?  How do I live in the Christmas season but not be of the Christmas season?  Every year, I struggle with these questions.  And every year, I say, I’m going to do A, B and C next year.  But, guess what!  It rarely happens.  There are so many factors I cannot control.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day, money in the bank and patience in my being.  The world’s Christmas gets the best of me every year and reading about how everyone else has it all figured out makes my inabilities that much more depressing.

But I have to remember that feeling when Christmas finally arrives.  I can finally get off the bull and dust myself off.  I made it.  We open the champagne and give the kids their presents, which assure us some peace and quiet for at least the rest of the morning.  And in that time, I can finally relax.  There are no more presents to wrap.  There are no more Christmas programs to plan or attend.  There are no more cards to send out.  There are no more cookies to bake.  All that is left to do is go to Mass and be with our Lord.  And that is grand.

But on a day like today (one where I worked a full and challenging day and then braved the holiday crowds with my spoiled, cranky children), all I want to do is spend the next 24 hours in the total silence of the adoration chapel.  And while I am in there listening to the sweet nothings He whispers to my heart, I want time to stop.  And elves to address and mail my Christmas cards, decorate the outside of my house, finish my shopping under budget, wrap all the presents, bake the Christmas cookies, clean my house and make a week’s worth of meals.  They can also do all the things I forgot to put on this list because my brain is Christmas-fried.  Now, that would be REALLY grand.

Copyright 2011 Lori Miller

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