Christmas Fried

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christmas fried

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.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I do “like” reading about the true meaning of Christmas on sites like this one.

But I’m not going to lie.  These posts stress me out.

Yes, I know the true meaning of Christmas.  I know that it is a season of giving- and that we should be 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 overwhelmed and the fact that these people seem to have it all together makes my holiday experience that much worse.  Here, in this day and age, Christmas has taken over EVERYTHING, from the coffee at Starbucks to the music in the dentist’s office.  Our American consumerism has morphed Christmas into a crazy money-driven holiday where the anticipation of Santa is more celebrated than that of Jesus.

Yes, it is great that such a large number of people in our society celebrate this season.  But our culture has driven Christmas into 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.

But I have to remember that feeling when Christmas finally arrives.  I can finally get off the bull and dust myself off.  I’ve 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.

Are you Christmas fried?  What’s your story?  How do you handle the stress?

Copyright 2013 Lori Miller

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4 Comments

  1. I had my first Christmas “meltdown” this weekend while we were all supposed to be bonding while decorating the tree. Instead, the kids were bickering about non-important things non-stop and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Of course, then I was mad at myself for ruining the mood and getting overly mad. Sigh. I apologized and we all forgave each other and it was good again. My husband said every mom is entitled to at least one holiday meltdown per year. 😉
    Usually it is a very stressful time for me also but this year I have cut things down to the bare minimum and it’s definitely made it more enjoyable. I’ll pray for you – that the joy and PEACE of Christmas comes soon!

  2. I love your post. It was like a Christmas gift to me. With older children, who no longer want the involvement in “Christmas” activities, it is hard to choreograph what is supposed to be Christmas by the world standards. We have to let down our standards, because spending time with family, however they arrive, whatever mood they or we are in is the best way we can live it. As God says “Come as you are” and for that I am grateful. I am grateful that you shared honestly, and validated that there are other moms coming in at a less than perfect or movie ready condition. Merry Christmas to your wonderful family!

  3. So sorry….for me Christmas is about the simple things. I have shopped and I have gotten all my Holiday meals together but I really keep it simple. We have home made decorations rather than store bought except for the candles. We bake and cook from October and we plan everything we need. I find that by keeping it simple I don’t get overwhelmed with the season but rather embrace it with frugality. Jesus was born in a manger. The idea of a Nobel birth in a manger reminds me not of the buying and shopping but of the humility of such a birth! I don’t feel that Jesus meant for us to be stressed out during this time of year but to take in simplicity of the season. Enjoying one another even if it doesn’t mean getting everything we want for gifts. The idea of being stressed out because of Jesus birth seems out of tune for me with the message that this birth brought with it. Enjoying family and friends is what matters to me most. God loves a “cheerful giver” but if giving is driving us to the brink of insanity it is best to reconsider just how we could be more simple in this time of year! Next year try a simpler Holiday and see if it doesn’t bring you more joy!

  4. the honesty is refreshing, so for that a huge thank you. i think as women of faith the treadmill we are thrown on at Christmas time is inevitable, and so exhausting, and i think to say “simplify it!” is just so incredibly easier said than done…because there are kids and expectations and guests who expect to eat and the demands grow bigger and bigger. i think, for the most part, i do keep things simple…but multiply that by four kids a husband a filthy house and 22 guests coming over for dinner. simple is suddenly not so simple any more. and it is not that we lose our focus…it is the opposite! we are painfully aware of the retail and material distraction. and ya know what? that is okay…that is great, actually. praise God we are aware! because most are not. but yes..we can simplify…we can say NO to some things, and choose the others and as i wrote in my own blog post, “if it doesn’t bring you closer to Jesus, don’t do it!”

    you mentioned “balance” and i too believe that is the key. do the shopping and wrapping and then hit the adoration chapel…

    i hope you had yourself a very merry and mighty Christmas and i look forward to more honesty in 2014!

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