I remember coming to the end of a Christmas season about ten or twelve years ago and wondering at my frustration.
There were no severe money trials that season, nothing that should have kept me from enjoying Christmas but... I couldn't put my finger on it... there was this sense of a lack of satisfaction... an unsettled feeling.
Soon after that, I was reading an article (magazine... book?) about this very thing. In it, the author said she learned to write out what it was she wanted from the Christmas season, what was most important to her. When I started doing that, I realized why the previous season had been lacking in joy.
It had been a rushed Christmas, the "doing" of many activities I felt I should do and not "being" the person I wanted to be that Season. My frustrations stemmed from a lack of getting away, alone beside my Christmas tree, enjoying that which comes from prayer and study and reading of books. I also had not said "no" to some outside activities that did not bring peace and joy.
Since that time, I have enjoyed making a list each season. My list has changed since that time due to health and finances but only in the "big" things. My list back then included attending a Christmas concert that I loved each year. However, it became too expensive even when we did have a regular income. It wasn't that much of a priority that I'd spend more for tickets to a concert then I would on a week's worth of groceries.
Another item on my list that has gone by the wayside is hosting a big Christmas party. I loved decorating the house and having a lot of people over but that season is now behind me. I remember one very magic (Narnia magic) party in our former house when we invited over Stephanie's college group. There was a tree in the family room and one in the living room, a fire was burning in the fire place, food placed in various areas, conversations were going on in many rooms of the house.
Later that night, as the young people were leaving, one student came up to tell me that night will be one of his "perfect Christmas memories" when he leaves college. It is one of my perfect memories, too. :)
I have found by making a list of those things I love about Christmas, I can make certain what means the most to me (and for my family) becomes a priority for time and money. Here are a few for this year, written out on paper before transferring to my scrapbook journal. Of course, I can't do them all but any of them on the "wish list" would make my season bright.
- Decorating the house with my snowman collection
- Carefully placing all my ornaments on the tree
- Morning quiet times in the dark, with the tree lit
- A breakfast out at Cracker Barrel during Christmas
- Lunch with the guys at our favorite cafeteria
- Holiday Baking
- Candy Cane Lane tea
- Listening to the music of the season
- Watching favorite Christmas movies
- Reading favorite Christmas books
- Seeing what yummies The Food Channel comes up with this year
- One or two Pumpkin Spice Latte's to enjoy
- A morning at Panera sipping coffee and writing a real letter
- Visit my sister, Bonnie, to see how she decorated her place (she has that wow factor)
- Send a small gift to my sister, Jean, knowing it is her first Christmas as a widow
- Send Christmas cards to our elderly aunties
- Visit my favorite "downtown" primitive country store... breath in the scents, no purchase necessary
This is only a way of thinking through what brings joy... and peace... and faith... and what lifts my thoughts to the One Who Made Me.
Little satisfactions in the most wondrous and magical time of the year.
I encourage you to brew a little pot of tea and fill your favorite tea cup, bring along a notebook and pen, light the Christmas tree if you have one, and think about those things that bring joy to your heart at Christmas. Are you making time for them? Did you budget for them through the year? What makes your heart sing with gladness?
You don't need to do them all, just choose a few that will cause you to look back at this Christmas and smile... and remember, Christmas is not about the price of gifts or how many are given, it is about the Giver of all gifts.