“If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”
I feel you, Ebenezer. I’m ready to throw Christmas under the bus. Advent was short. I’ve been sick with a cold (or the Martian Death Flu, not sure which) since Gaudete Sunday, and the house looks like an elf crashed a sleigh into my living room. I’d take a walk and try to breathe in the spirit of the season, but I’m terrified of the specter of naked fir trees at the curb. It’s the Feast of St. Stephen and Christmas was not what I wanted. I’m now facing a dichotomy I dread:
The world says it’s over until next year. My liturgical calendar? Sleigh bells until January 6.
I am worn, friends, and I am weary. And I’m guessing maybe you are, too.
We’ve had Season’s Greetings in our face since October, not to mention the mad crush of parties and events and shopping and wrapping and baking and all the “must-do’s” we endure. Perhaps some would intone out of kindness, “Expectations, girl. You gotta lower them.”
I’m a mom, random-advice-giver. I’ve been gold medaling in low-bar limbo since ‘06.
Dickens understood this conundrum.
He knew the quiet ache in each human heart. He created Scrooge not as a villain or a creep, but as a person with whom we could relate — even if at first we don’t want to admit it.
The truth is, charity is hard. Joy is a choice. Our hope in the tiny Christ child gets eclipsed by the bottom line, every. Single. Year. I baked twelve dozen cookies, wrapped five million presents, and listened to Wham’s Last Christmas more times than I care to admit.
You want me to keep going, Catholicism?
I’m “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”
But tell me, my friend. Do you hear it? There’s a voice, and it’s calling you.
“Would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give? … Rise, and walk with me.”
Rise, and walk with You.
In Your humble stable.
Within your quiet light.
Underneath that brilliant star, which for all we know still shines in the same night sky now glinting on the roof above our heads.
It is your light, Lord, which fills and sustains us. It is your gleam which shines from the tree. It is your hope which we cling to in the depths of our fatigue and apparent failures.
You are our hope.
Scrooge eventually understood that. And I know that, eventually, so will we.
If you want to continue celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with your family, but you just don’t have the wherewithal to go big, take a gander at this list of 11 no-stress activities, one for each of the days you have left.
The Weary Mom’s Guide to the Twelve Days of Christmas
- Gather by the tree and read picture books. Try Old Befana, Tomie dePaola’s re-telling of the Three Wisemen Tale.
- Pile in front of the TV and watch movies, like The Muppet Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life.
- Take time to make ornaments or snowglobes. Go for low-stress crafts with little mess.
- Teach the kids to bake your favorite cookie recipe. Get out of the way and let them do it without your help (then get hubby to teach them to clean up).
- Talk a walk in the woods in the daylight. Get outside and breathe.
- Go for a drive to see area Christmas lights. None left? Visit a planetarium or star gaze instead.
- Take advantage of an online retreat, just for you.
- Play board games by the tree while listening to Christmas music.
- Read Luke Chapter Two as a family. If you’re ambitious, put on a family nativity play.
- Wait to take down your directions. You can enjoy them through February 2 (Candlemas), if you like.
- Chalk your door with your family. This is a great tradition for January 6.
How do you keep your Christmas going? I’d love to hear all of your tips!
Copyright 2017 Ginny Kochis