“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.”
That’s great and all, but doesn’t this dream set you up for a whole heap of Christmas disappointment? What if it doesn’t snow? And oh, how it teems with nostalgia! It’s notorious for making you think that the past was snowy and perfect and a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Before you think the Grinch and I are in cahoots, allow me to explain my bah-humbug comments with a few stories.
Illustration No. 1: Every December, Santa comes to town and pays my family a personalized visit. So yes, I’m proud to say that Santa and I are pals, and I have a number of pictures as proof. For those who are wondering, Santa is tall, not-so-round, and his voice uncannily resembles my grandpa’s.
Over Christmas break one year, I was deep in an attempt to be Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray by baking a pumpkin roll with peach cream cheese filling, mint chocolate whoopie pies and homemade hot chocolate. My pumpkin roll was not baking properly, despite my exasperated effort, and I was on the verge of a holiday meltdown.
Of course, Santa arrived on our doorstep at the very moment that tears were about to flow due to the pumpkin mess in the oven.
“Mom, I don’t want Santa to be here!” I said through frustrated tears. I was 18 years old. My mom couldn’t help but laugh through her effort in being sympathetic.
I was a floury wreck (Martha would shake her head in disappointment), and I didn’t want Santa’s visit to happen at a time when I had the desire to throw my Taste of Home cookbook through the kitchen window.
I wanted my holiday traditions to be perfect, but Martha and Santa would attest that this moment was far from that.
Illustration No. 2: Then there are those who do everything in their power to make Christmas their ideal holiday, down to every detail. My sweet cousins insist that it must be dark during present-opening time on Christmas morning. Bless their hearts; they wake up at 5:45 a.m. to make that happen. And according to them, it should be cloudy on Christmas (snow is a given as well), so if the sun is shining, it’s necessary to pull the blinds to set the right ambiance.
I can’t say I disagree with their idea of the perfect Christmas mood, but it proves that we can send ourselves into a tizzy by insisting on those uncontrollable details.
Hopefully you see now that I’m not a Scrooge, nor has the Grinch sent me to steal Christmas. I just think it’s all too common for us to place so much stock in picture perfect Christmas traditions.
Have you ever, voluntarily or not, watched one of the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies in which the main character is doomed to repeat Christmas Day over and over again until he or she gets it “right”? (Chances are, you’ve seen at least one movie with this dime-a-dozen plot.) The day the character finally accomplishes Christmas perfection ends the movie on a warm and fuzzy note, and we’re left with the impression that we can achieve such perfection, too.
Yet reality states that Christmas comes but once a year, and we’re blessed with one day to enjoy family and to celebrate our Savior’s incarnation.
Here’s my practical advice: enjoy your traditions, but don’t count on them. (And the weather is spotty, so don’t count on the snow either.) Cherish family, the time you’re blessed to spend together, because we don’t get a do-over to make it meet our expectations.
Ultimately, if we’re focused on the Savior on that special day, the snow won’t matter so much anyway. Doesn’t that relieve some of the holiday pressure?
Have a merry, tradition-filled-but-stress-free, Christmas.