Friday, 18 December 2009

Ready for Christmas??

There is a pile of Christmas presents at my feet as I type, patiently expecting, nay, needing to be wrapped.
My insides are still trying to recover from a tenacious virus...
And my house is only just back up to an acceptably snug temperature after being refitted with a brand new central heating system.
I have a mountain of clean laundry to wade through in order to find something to wear every morning, and a backlog of dirty clothes waiting to be fed to our valiant washing machine, or 'pet' as my dear friend Sharon likes to refer to it...
My gas cooker has all but packed up and my tumble dryer is suffering from a chronic leak.

Which leads me to this nagging question, a question that has been plaguing me for the last coupe of weeks: am I ready??
I hear you ask.
'ER, HELLOOOOO?!?!?', I nearly reply.

And then, I stop and think.

Who cares?!?
Where's the fire?
What's the rush?
And anyway, where's this pressure coming from, to 'be ready' for Christmas...??

Who has written a law proclaiming that "ye shalt deck the halls with boughs of holly two weeks before Christmas"?
Why do I receive cards that say: "Merry Christmas from Tom, Dick and Harry Jones, Helen the goat and Jamie the goldfish"...
...No "dear" - or even "to" - to precede the 'season's greetings' on many of them...

I mean: why do people bother?! What is the point...? It makes me so cross; it all reeks of obligation, of duty, of reluctant compliance with Christmas 'etiquette'.

So that when I find myself sneaking a little personal message on each of the Christmas cards I eventually manage to send, I almost feel like a misfit, a rebel. But I like that! Because to me that is the whole point: I'm not interested in conforming for the sake of it, just to 'fit in'.

Don't get me wrong here. I LOVE decorating the house for Christmas, putting up twinkly lights, buying the presents, the yummy food, making, sending and receiving cards; I love Christmas!!!

What I hate is the pressure we put ourselves under to make it 'perfect', to make it 'just right'... To have the fairytale, picture-perfect, 'Hollywood' Christmas. A friend on Facebook (...and real life, yes...) said this:

"I see status updates about the stress of shopping, making and wrapping gifts and cards and am SO happy for the freedom of our decision of no gifts for anyone and cards for just the parents... we are enjoying the REAL spirit of Christmas SOOOO much this year!!! So fun. So free from obligations and stress. (Who needs another candle or bubble bath, anyway?? Just a waste of money to fulfil self-imposed obligations!)"

I want to do it my way - or rather, OUR way. I want us to create our own family traditions, make memories, and most important of all, help build a strong foundation of faith in our kids by putting Christ right bang in the centre of the whole thing. And that means that, yes I will refuse to be dictated to by the general western way of 'doing' Christmas.

Practically speaking, it looked like this for me today: all things considered, (see above!!) I decided to have a lazy morning, sitting on my bed with a cuppa, my Bible and notebook (oh, and before you start being impressed, or inspired by my oh-so-holy-and-perfect 'devotional life', let me assure you this is NOT a daily occurrence. Far from it... Not that I wouldn't want it to be. Glad I cleared that up. You're welcome.)
I had planned to write all my cards, wrap presents, start decorating the house so that I would feel more 'ready'. But do you know something? I felt so relaxed after spending some time with God, and I realised that the other stuff?

...It can wait! It might not be 'The Perfect Christmas', but I'll get there feeling far less stressed, and hopefully, with my heart in the right place. To welcome my Saviour again. To love Him, worship Him, and celebrate life, with Him.

Ultimately, that's all that matters.