I wait on people everyday on my job. The conversation usually goes like this: "Hello, how are you today? What can I do for you?" With Christmas just a few weeks away, it gives me something else to talk about besides the weather. I'll ask, "Are you ready for Christmas?" It amazes me how many negative responses I get. "I'm ready for Christmas to be over with" is one of the answers I hear frequently.
"Christmas is just not the same anymore. It's so commercialized" is another popular response. "I've been so busy, that I haven't had time" or "With my husband/father/mother (insert name) in the hospital, or trying to work/go to school/be a caregiver, it's a stressful time of year."
Work. Job loss. Poor health. Family problems. Loneliness. There are many things that cause people to be depressed and stressed during this time of year. My son-in-law, who is in law enforcement, told me that suicides rates are up this time of year. That's so sad, but it's true. We want things to be perfect. We want the "It's a Wonderful Life" happy ending. We want to see that hard-to-get-along-with relative of ours to have a "Scrooge"-like conversion. We want a 'White Christmas' on Christmas morning.
I think about all these wonderful things I want to do, the picture perfect decorating, the sumptuous feasts, the beautifully wrapped presents under my theme-based tree. I want to create gorgeous baskets of homemade goodies to give to all my friends. But I don't have the time to do it all, so I have to choose. For the last few years I've down-sized my Christmas decorating. I put up my table top tree and decorated it with my homemade ornaments made out of old Christmas cards that I've cut out and outlined with glitter. I hang up some simple candy canes and curling ribbon and my little tree is finished. I have a few miniature nativity sets, most which I found in thrift stores for a couple of dollars. Just the other day I found a whole nativity set: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, shepherds and manger animals, stuffed in ziplock bag for $2.99 and not a scratch or chip to be found. Of course I bought them.
It's easy to forget what the season is really all about. It's not about the decorating or the presents or how much money you have. It's about a baby, born in a humble stable, two thousand years ago, that was a gift to mankind, a gift from God.
Here's a photo of my tree last year.