Christmas Chaos…

The holidays are supposed to be a joyous and happy time of year. For years the holidays had the opposite effect on me. Christmas carols, city decorations, and local festivities stirred sadness instead of excitement within me. As I became older, this confused me. I wasn’t sure why my natural reaction was so sad and negative. I always knew deep inside of me that it was somehow linked to my parents divorcing when I was a young child. The exact relation of the two was unclear. However, this Christmas some light is beginning to shed on the situation.

I have been struggling with the fact that this will be my first Christmas without my children waking up in my home. Even though I’ve spent several Christmas’s since getting separated and divorced, the relationship I had maintained with my ex-husband and his family made it possible for us to continue spending the holidays together as a family. This made things simpler and easier on all of us.

However, this year our life situations have changed. Each of us have moved on and formed meaningful relationships with others forcing us to begin celebrating the holidays with our new families. This is difficult enough when two people are married for the first time. It can be tough deciding where you spend the holidays and with whom. Because I’m divorced and have children, the situation is much more complex. It has been a draining task trying to decide who to visit when without spreading myself and the kids too thin.

My biggest concern is stability for Maddie and Noah. I am fairly persistent in traveling as little as possible during the holidays. I like to limit my visits and activities to no more than one a day. Others sometimes have a hard time understanding why, but I remember my childhood too clearly during Christmas. I would wake up at my dad’s, open my gifts from Santa, then run to my grandmother’s house for dinner and to exchange gifts. It seems that no sooner did I arrive there, that my mom showed up to pick me up for her half of the holidays. I would have to run inside, wish all of my relatives a Merry Christmas, open my gifts from them on the way out of the house, or in the driveway itself while saying goodbye. I would climb in the car, and begin an hour long drive to pick up my stepsister for the holidays. On the way there, my mom would hand my brother and I our Christmas gifts and we would open them while riding in the car. Once we arrived at my stepsister’s house, she would do the same. We would usually stop and eat a meal at the Waffle House, (it was the only place ever open), and then we would go to my stepfather’s parents’ house to celebrate Christmas with them. Sometime later that night we would arrive at my mom’s too tired to do anything but sleep.

No wonder the holidays brought such non-fuzzy feelings for me. The irony of the situation is this: All of this running around was done in an effort to please everyone. People were unwilling to change tradition because of tradition. Make sense? The result, several children grew up dreading the holidays. It was not a holiday that brought memories of peace, love, and joy. The only joyful Christmas memories I have are the following: making homemade Christmas ornaments with my mom before my parents divorced, decorating the Christmas tree at my dad’s house, eating at the Waffle House Christmas day, and eating chocolate chip cookies my mom baked. (I’m sure the baking of these cookies would have made it to the list except they were baked the week before my visit with her.)

As a result of this, I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible for my own children. I’ve learned that running all over the world visiting everyone in efforts to please create nothing but “Christmas chaos”. The season isn’t about the shuffle. It’s not about giving and receiving gifts from one to another. It’s ultimately about one gift: God’s gift of eternal life through his son’s birth. It’s our gift to receive. Even though the time of year is not accurate, it is the time people long ago decided to celebrate this glorious event. In all the chaos, how often do we stop and ponder on this wonderful gift that was offered to us? Is it something we have received? If not, is it something you’re willing to receive? Contemplating receiving? If you have already received it, you know how marvelous it is. If you’re willing or contemplating receipt of this gift, let me tell you: You won’t regret it! Nothing that we could ever give one another on earth even compares. The season should be about love and peace. How much of of each are incorporated into your holiday this year? What is your focus? Is it running house to house in an effort to please men, or is it spending time loving and reflecting on the most awesome gift of love ever offered?

Think about it. It’s a Christ-centered holiday. How often does your family sit around and read scripture together? (Mine doesn’t.) When you’re gathered together, how many of you talk about the real reason we celebrate the holiday, and talk in detail about the story of Christ’s birth and what is means to us? All I’m saying is, I think we’ve complicated something meant to be simple. My question to you is this: Why do you celebrate the holiday? Search your heart and ask yourself, “What does this season mean to me?”. Then plan accordingly. It really can and should be that simple.

Published in: on December 8, 2006 at 2:48 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You made mention of the new secular meaning that has been associated with Christmas. I recently found this, which has changed my perception of the history of Christmas.

  2. The trivia about how Dickens may have effected people’s perception of Christmas is nice, but it was the history of people’s holiday perceptions that I valued most.

    I had been told the church took over the pagan winter holidays because members were determined to celebrate them regardless of the meaning. (This is similar to church hosted “Fall Festivals” and “Judgement Houses”.) I had assumed Christmas’s popularity was the same then as it is now, with no drastic change in between. This is contrary to the article.

    I had assumed once the church took over the holiday, it retained a holy meaning up until shortly after the Great Depression, at which point it turned from holy to secular. From what the article describes, old-school Christmas sounds more like Mardi Gras than Easter. Clearly the holiday debauchery of the office party is much older than the office.

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