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Finding Joy in Christmas 2017

My Perfect Christmas goes something like this…

• Advent tree. I need a small toy to give each kid with a bible verse attached every day. • Get an elf. Make it do elf things every single night before Christmas. • Bake cookies from scratch and decorate. • Make a gingerbread house. • Cut down a Christmas tree at a tree farm. • Everyone decorates the tree with Christmas music on and hot cocoa. • Fireplace mantle must be decked • Simple Christmas wreath on the door. Lights outside, candles in windows on and a spotlight on the house. • Go see the nutcracker, or a Christmas carol • Christmas parties • Go to a tree lighting somewhere nearby. • Go see santa, buy really expensive picture, bonus points if you go on the polar express. • Get your Christmas card photo taken. Order the card and mail it to people you don’t talk to anymore. • Buy gifts. They can’t be regular gifts like socks, robes, sweaters and whatever else. They have to be thoughtful gifts. Handmade preferred. • Don’t get the kids too many toys or they will be spoiled. Stick to the rule of four. • Make sure to find and volunteer to help out with various holiday outreach events. Soup kitchens, or collecting food or clothes for donation centers. • Wrap all the gifts with varying wrapping paper. But of similar colors and bows so that it looks nice under the tree. • Buy or make small gifts for everyone, teachers, mailman, extracurricular teachers, secretaries ect. • Cook the BEST meal on Christmas.

My Actual Christmas

• Cut down the tree. • Kids decorated the tree. • Made a paper chain. • Made a gingerbread house. • Saw the nutcracker. • Saw Christmas lights around the neighborhood. • Saw Santa. • Got our Christmas card photo taken, but never ordered the cards.

I could continue to go on about all we didn’t get done this year but I will spare you all of those details. That’s not how I want to remember this Christmas. I don’t want to tally up all the ways I've fallen short. I don't want to write about how I am stressed, overwhelmed, feeling not enough because I am. I always am. Every day. I talk badly to myself, feel shame, then tell my mind to shut up and stop hurting me and it’s a cycle. Some days are worse than others.

If I focus on all that we didn’t do this year, I am missing what we have done. I am missing those moments of joy that are happening right before my eyes. I am missing time being present with family. I forget about the other traditions we've made, the ones that aren’t on the list. I end up wanting to forget this Christmas and not even celebrate. I consider sleeping the day away hoping no one will notice. I am the Grinch and I steal the joy from others, when I complain about the wrapping, or the elf, or the santa line, or the lack of ideas for gifts, or the car that cut me off in the parking lot, or the food I have to prepare.

I don’t want to do that. This could be my last Christmas ever. I surrender. I’ll stop trying to control it now. I’ll stop listening to the should’s and ought to’s. I’ll stop trying to escape it by watching tv and going on my phone.

I’ll be grateful. I’ll appreciate the love of my family and friends. I’ll enjoy the time with my kids and the look on their faces as they experience the magic of Santa. I will savor those unforgettable moments of joy as the kids watched the dancers in the nutcracker and the incredible Christmas light display rocking to the tune of The Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.

I did my best this year and my best is good enough.

I hope this holiday season is truly special for you. Remember that you are worthy and you did your best. Don’t let your mind tell you otherwise. Smile at strangers, be extra giving, admit your shortcomings, be quick to apologize, and forgive. Give your family an extra squeeze this year, because you can.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.

The Usmars 2017

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