When you are a child, the holidays are so exciting... you can't wait! Even Thanksgiving is full of anticipation and fun because you know that the family is getting together for fun and food. AND you had days off from school!
As we become adults we get to the point where the holidays are so incredibly stressful. You really can't enjoy them any more. Think about it.
When you were a kid the anticipation was simple - fun, food, friends and family. Christmas was time off from school, looking forward to your "surprises"... a new bike, a new Nintendo game.
As an adult, especially in the last couple of years when we are all going through so much financial difficulty, the holidays bring stress - so much stress. You can't wait for it to be "over". I think that is so sad.
You try to figure out ways to buy gifts you know you can't afford - to entertain your family with food and drink that you will buy by not paying some of your bills this month and hoping you can figure out a way to pay two months in January.
You make list after list of those that you HAVE to buy for. You add only the children at first, chastising yourself that you really can't do much more than that. But then you start thinking "What if so-and-so shows up with a present for me?" So now you add so-and-so to your list. You struggle and stress over this list over and over - adding people - removing people.... Why can't we just feel comfortable saying "thank you" for that gift without feeling like crap because we didn't give them one? Who are these people that are giving you gifts? Don't they love you? Don't they KNOW you love them? Don't you think enough of them and of yourself to accept a gift without having to give one in return because you simply can't do it?
And then of course you go into the "what do I get them" question that keeps you up at night! God forbid you buy them something cheaper than what they bought you!
I love Xmas. I always have. It's such a pretty time... people are usually nicer... I have time off from the stress of my office... I love Christmas music! But I hate the stress that we have created around the holidays. I HATE to feel that I HAVE to do something that I really can't do! I would not want a present from someone who has had to struggle and stress to get it for me!!!
Why do we do that? Why have we created such stress for ourselves at a time of the year when we should be stress free!!! The year is over, we have time off to relax... we have beautiful decorations, music.... For Christians, its the time to celebrate Jesus' birth... for everyone, it's the time to celebrate the end of a year - good or bad - and the beginning of new one.
CHRISTMAS IS NOT ABOUT PRESENTS!!! Not really. It's about saying "I love you"! You do not need to spend money to do that! A simple card, a handmade gift, a thoughtful gesture.... doesn't that mean anything any more? Is it more important to buy a present for someone than to do little things that show that person you love them?
What we all should be doing is sitting down to dine together with our families. Have fun with a karaoke machine! Dance to some great or goofy music. Take lots of pictures. Create memories! That would be the IDEAL Christmas celebration. Whether or not there are boxes under the tree.
Over the past few years I have strived to give gifts that mean something - regardless of their monetary value. Over the past 3 years I have made a memory book for my brothers - a book of our family during the previous year. I do it through Apple using the pictures I take during the year. My brothers treasure these books. My children, nieces and nephews who are now adults have asked that I make one for them as well for Xmas. We sit around with the books on Xmas day and relive the past year in our family. Lots of laughter and tears. It's a wonderful thing to do and everyone really looks forward to it. THAT is Xmas.
If you are one of the lucky ones that can buy gifts for everyone you love - good for you!!! There is nothing wrong with that! But if you are like most in this country during Christmas 2010, do yourself a favor. Love yourself enough to just say I love you. That really is the greatest gift you can give anyway!