Stuff I love about Christmas (so far)

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I know that Christmas can be a stressful time; for me, the most stressful part is always the finances– struggling to find the balance between what I would like to do or get for people and the realistic constraints of my budget.  I don’t always succeed, and then I cause myself undue stress by making things tighter than they should be.

But despite the money tug, I love Christmas time.  I love the feeling.  The excitement.  The spirit of it all.  I admit that it’s getting harder and harder to find amid all the ridiculous “If you can’t get your wife a new car or a diamond something for Christmas, you’ve somehow failed” marketing mentality.  Because –really– that’s just dumb. I actually enjoy some of the bustle and lines at stores, and I feel like most of the people are sincerely out to find things to show love to people they care about.

I love nativity sets.

I love Christmas music.  The good stuff.  There are plenty of “holiday” songs I could do without, but thank goodness for Pandora online radio, which I am constantly streaming in my house.

I love The Messiah.  I probably normally couldn’t convince my husband and children to go sit through a really long choral performance, but when blog friend DeNae mentioned she was participating, I jumped on the reason.  It totally, absolutely put my Christmas heart in the right place.  It was long, and the hour was a little late, and the children were a little restless, but they were so GOOD.  I think they felt and understood the reverence and majesty of it.  Natalie now sings the Hallelujah chorus while she walks around the house, and I love it.

I love the “excuse” of the holiday to express love and appreciation for friends and neighbors, my children’s teachers and leaders, and people who bless my life all the time and often go unnoticed.

I love, love Christmas cards.  It’s like a little walk down memory lane of friends from years and stages past.  I love all the good people God has put in my life and Christmas cards remind me how abundant that blessing is.

I love looking for and finding service opportunities that our family can participate in.  Sub for Santa participation is always fun and rewarding.  Yesterday, the kids and I paid for the meal of someone behind us at a drive-through window, and they loved peeking their heads above the back seat to see the surprised reaction as we drove away.  I just love stuff like that because it feels so … good.

I love chocolate.  I’m on a diet, but still.

I love that this is the only time of the year that snow can fall, and I don’t feel bitter about it.

I love finding simple ways to celebrate.  I’m all about doing things with as little time and money investment as possible.  Like when we drove around our neighborhood and gave out “Best Christmas Lights” awards.  Or when we made cookies just because we had a little time and then drove around to give them to people we maybe didn’t think of the first time around.

I love trying to make the big day as special as possible by doing most of the hard work before it comes.  This is why I actually had my wedding reception the day before my wedding.  And it’s why I do my Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.  I just like spending the real day in as much relaxed peace as possible.  And leftovers rock.

I love Mary.  I don’t think we ever give her enough credit for how Jesus Christ turned out.  Yes, he was divine.  Yes, he was foreordained.  But she raised him and guided him and helped him become all he was meant to be.  She must have felt an incredible responsibility, and I have no doubt that her initial submission to the Father, “Be it unto me according to thy word,” set the example for all that Christ did throughout his life.

I think the real reason I love Christmas is because I love Christ.  It’s just that simple.  And all the extra attentions at this time of year feel like a way of honoring Him and showing Him how special He is to me and my family.  Because like The Messiah declares, He spent a lot of time being despised, rejected and spat upon, and I guess it feels like there can never be too much praise to pay Him back for all He suffered for me.

So.  Merry, merry Christmas.  I hope you find many things to love, many ways to love, and many opportunities to feel love for the rest of the holiday season.

   “It is proper during this season when we commemorate His birth that we remember the Lord Jesus Christ in reverence and with love. He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has brought meaning to our mortal existence. He has given us the gift of eternal life.
“When all is said and done, when all the legions of the ages have passed in review, when man’s terrible inhumanity to man has been chronicled, when God’s great love for His children has been measured, then above all stands the lone figure of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the living Son of the living God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One.”  — Gordon B. Hinckley

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Post-holiday detox

Isn’t Christmastime lovely?  And doesn’t winter really stink once Christmas is over?

Here are a few myths that are planted in children’s minds during a holiday vacation that are very hard (yea, even painful) to extract once the holiday is over:

1.  Everytime you turn around you will have a new present.  (Before you judge my parenting, please know that while I am a contributor to this and the other myths, it’s not all my fault.  There are generous family and friends everywhere, and things just get out of control!)

2.  You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want it, and candy for breakfast is fine.

3. We will spend our days thinking of fun things to do together.

4.  All chores and routines are pretty much out the window.

5.  There are lots of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other loved ones available anytime you want to play a game or otherwise need assistance.

I’m sure there are other myths too (feel free to add your own to the list), but these are the ones that haunt me the most now that we’re back to real life.

My children are convinced that I am the Grinch, Scrooge, and the Snow Witch combined because I will not let their mythical expectations continue unchecked.  It’s like they’ve completely forgotten how to put clothes in the hamper, clear their dishes, put everything they need in their backpacks every day, do chores and homework, entertain themselves, OBEY, and speak to me without complaining about how unfair their life is.

Someone tell me this will get better soon because I’m thinking about canceling the holidays next year.  Do they make Christmas rehab?