Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - When Christmas isn't perfect but that is just fine


Back in my former life, when I worked in Organization Development, my boss would remind me that many of the problems we dealt with were because people wanted to "live life the way it ought to be and not the way it is".  He called it his, "is-ought" theory.

I think of that each and every Christmas Season for that is the root of any frustrations I have with the Holidays.  I have an image in my mind of the Christmas I long for and when it is compared to the actual circumstances of that particular year... well, sometimes they are closer in reality than other years.

There are some circumstances we just cannot change (or easily change) whether they be health related, finances, kids far away, no kids at all, being single, challenges with a family member,  living away from family, or a variety of ways life is far from perfect.

I have learned to meet every Holiday Season with the realization that life is not what it ought to be (actually, I have to be reminded of that every day of the year).  This isn't Heaven, yet.  The war of the ages continues on here on this fallen planet and  humanity pays the price.  Someday that will all change.  Amen and Hallelujah!

In the meantime, I do the best I can with what I have.  Sometimes alone and at times with the help of friends... humans and a favorite cow (Moo).  There are years I feel like doing nothing and have to force myself to even put a tree up and then there are Christmas seasons I decorate everything but the cat (while thinking how cute a red ribbon would look on her).

This year I'd say is... good.  Not great but good.  On one hand, I put up decorations but only about half of what is available.  I knew what I got out would have to be put away. The house still looks festive and Christmasy.  I have a stack of Christmas books, DVDs, and a few Hallmark movies are set to come on so they are not missed.

Sometimes there are those challenges that cannot be changed.  Through the years they have included grief and I'm thankful this year is not one of them.  Time doesn't take away completely that sadness but it makes it less sharp.  Health issues continue as does having to forgive people over and over (and over) due to mental health issues.

There are a few ways I replace sadness with joy and all of those have to do with remembering the True reason for Christmas.  I've been keeping my Bible on the coffee table to grab as one would take a life-giving booster shot during the day.  I am so thankful for the larger print Modern English Version Bible I bought last year (before the whole losing my sight in the right eye thing).  So far the translation has not let me down, either.

I listen to Christmas music, that which I've loved for years and some British choral music that I've come to appreciate the past few years.  There is something about music that changes the atmosphere of a room, which causes one to realize why King David's musical abilities soothed King Saul (until Saul tried to kill him later but that's another story).

Right now I'm reading Phyllis Tickle's What the Land Already Knows: Winter's Sacred Days for Advent reading.  There are times when reading from a different perspective helps me more fully get a picture of Jesus (she is Episcopalian).  The Miss Read Christmas stories offer a good balance.

I must admit, there have been prior years when all I wanted to do was hold my breath and wish the Holidays would just get over with thank you very much.  Thankfully, they have been few.  Most of the time it has been like this year when I must choose to have joy

A lesson taken from past trials is this... they can swallow you up like the enemy of our souls intended or you can fight back by doing the opposite of what he expects.

For instance, putting up a tree with pretty lights and decorations that mean so much is an act of faith.  Polishing the (thrift store) silver to look sparkly is an act of faith.  Choosing to read life giving books is an act of faith.  Deciding to dress up and visit a friend or go to a concert when you feel like staying home and suffering is an act of faith.

Baking cookies when there is no family nearby and taking them to the local police or fire department as a gift is an act of faith.  Reaching out from your own pain to help another is an act of faith.

When you choose to live as Jesus wants you to live, to have a thankful attitude instead of complaining, that is an act of faith and all of it has eternal consequences.  As I have told my husband seemingly a million times... sometimes all you have to give the Lord is your attitude.

So this year my Christmas is not perfect but that is just fine with me.  For it is good and I have learned that good can be... good enough.  There is a lot for which to be thankful and isn't it quite a blessing that we have Someone to thank?

Mentioned in this Post
Larger print MEV Bible... here
What the Land Already Knows... here.
Christmas at Fairacre... here.

Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  I thank  you.

Image:  Christmas Glow

6 comments:

Deanna Rabe said...

I find the whole ought-is thing to be the key to whether we can live in a joyful way regardless of circumstances!

Vee said...

Yup, that “ought thing can get a gal depressed. I am pretty sure that I ought to feel better, be younger, thinner, and more attractive... My house should be sparkling clean and I ought to be less cranky. Problems in paradise! I read a brief blurb about Christmas expectations being way too high in our quest for perfection. It ended with the important thing is to look for God in every situation. Merry on, Brenda! I may or may not bake pumpkin bread tonight...just depends whether I get a burst of energy.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we are not all a bit influenced by media. Magazines featuring over the top decorating, fabulous looking food. Most of this is out of reach for the average person. I still like a simple, old fashioned Christmas. Our consumer driven society has a powerful influence and it is easy to fall prey to it.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, just know you are not alone in having to forgive over and over (and over again) those with mental health issues. I am glad you have found ways to encourage yourself...I guess everyone is different. Because someone was such a trail every single time I decorated, when we went this different faith path...I left behind all of that...and I find it easiest to try to keep things as same as I can during December. Which must be the worst month ever for most with mental issues. Sometimes my not doing any decorating is mull-grubbed about...but I am resolute. Because in the long run, it is easiest that way. I can always watch or listen online to whatever I find joyful...music etc. as well as enjoying scenery about town. (We are just finishing up the last of a very beautiful Fall...and evergreens are beautiful every day!!) And it is enough. I don't mess much with regular decor in the house either. VERY little. Again, finding it easier. Heh, now if I could quit stacking so many papers here and there, it would be virtually a truly spartan house. And to think I was a Home Ec major in college...but one can adapt. Takes time doesn't it? And I have always enjoyed my friends homes where they had more freedom than I have had. Over the years some of my creativity has been in making quilts, cross-stitch, crocheted and sewn items for others...and take photos for my project album and so far all are given to others.
Elizabeth

l hoov said...

Trying to get into the Spirit of Christmas this year, but struggling. just about 4 months in a new home, 2 hours away from my hometown of 49 years, this just doesn't feel like "home" yet - a sever case of, it oughta. It Oughta be Christmas back "home" close to family, friends, and my church family...not here, where I don't know anyone, and we're 30 miles from any town. I OUGHTA be looking to the Hope for the Season. Thank you.
Thank you also for introducing my to Candy Cane Lane tea...currently enjoying a cup as a thunderstorm rolls thru! (Thunderstorms in December in Central Wisconsin is a rare occurrence indeed!)LynneinWI

Simply Shelley said...

I have had to bare hard loss over the last few years. My physical and emotional health is not good.... No energy, chronic pain,depression..... All this and more has made it difficult to function at all. But you spoke of faith.....another word..... mercy. These two words keep Christmas in my heart all year long. It is still my most favorite time of the year....because of the hope we have in Christ. Wonderful post.... Thanks for sharing