Christmas Isn’t What It Used To Be

Photo by DreAminginDigITal via DeviantArt.

I’m finding it harder as an adult to get into the Christmas spirit than it was when I was a kid. As a child, I couldn’t wait to decorate the tree, start playing Christmas tunes, and of course there was Christmas morning. I have vivid memories of mornings where my parents had artfully arranged the gifts around the tree the night before. Every Christmas morning was magical.

Now, with divorced parents plus in-laws who want to see us, Christmas is, quite honestly, an energy drainer for me. I actually have begun to loathe the holiday season because it means that I don’t get recharged and get through it feeling more exhausted than before.

I’ve tried to explain this to TMOTH (The Man of The House), but I’m not sure he really gets it. And while I understand his wanting to see family, I’m getting to be of the opinion that that’s what family reunions are for. It’s a drain to watch people open gifts, gorge themselves on too much food, and spend too little time honoring what the season is really supposed to be about: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Maybe that’s why the season is such a problem for me: we’re focused on the wrong things. Instead of attending a church service together, we gorge ourselves on turkey with the trimmings. Of course none of us visit each others churches since none of us can agree on a church. (My church tends to close down for Christmas anyway, so there are Christmas Eve services–on three nights no less!–but nothing Christmas day.)

This year, let’s try not to be so focused on having the “perfect” dinner, or finding the “perfect” gift for someone. In these rough economic times, it’s best not to feel the added pressure that the season creates anyway. I know my own Christmas giving will be leaner this year. Focus instead on your immediate family. Be thankful–and express it!–to God for sending us His Son. Make a tradition you want to continue in your life. The pastor of my church, after the gift exchange, has a tradition of putting a discarded bow on his head, sitting under the tree, and reflecting on what God has given him as well as what he can give to God. Maybe that’s something you could do as well.

I wish you the happiest of Christmases. I pray you find how truly blessed you are, regardless of how abundant or lean this year may be for you.

Please enjoy this Christmas tune. It’s one of my favorites.

Until next time,

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14 thoughts on “Christmas Isn’t What It Used To Be

  1. I know how you feel. My parent's are divorced. I don't see my sister or my father anymore. And the whole season can get me down. But family is family. Even the imperfect ones. And loving them even if they have lost sight of the reason for the season remains on of my biggest challenges. But I think God would be proud that I try 🙂

    Hugs to you and Merry Christmas.

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  2. Thanks, Tabitha. It *is* hard when you're being pulled six different ways. I try not to let it get to me, but this year, when we're in the middle of a move and contemplating a full-out relocation, I'm tending to ignore the season all together. So far, I've bought one — 1! — Christmas present. :/

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  3. You're such a Scrooge! LOL

    But seriously, I know it's hard when your family is divided and spread out, and you don't get to see most of them most of the time. This makes me all the more thankful my parents stayed together–a rarity these days, it appears.

    Family is important to God, and therefore it's important to the season celebrating His Son's birth. In my family, we recognize it's not about gorging food or giving/ receiving presents. We simply get together as a family, talk, play games, have a fun time. How often I wish more families could know what it's like.

    ~ VT

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  4. @Sheila, thanks. 🙂

    @Victor, I sure would like it if that's what we did! It would make the pressure that much less. And, I've had a lot of stress points this year, so it would alleviate a bunch of my stress.

    And, I'm trying really hard not to be a Scrooge, but the more difficulties come at me during this time of year, the easier it is to dislike the season.

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  5. I know you aren't the only one who feels down at Christmas. A friend of mine (who is also an anglican priest) hosts a 'Blue Christmas' every year at her church. it's a time for those who are feeling blue during the holdiays to share and to focus on Jesus. Although I don't 'get it', per se (I love the holidays) I realize there are lots of folks who do not relish the busyness, the pretence, the commercialism, the financial strain, or the loneliness that can often be part of the season. May God bless you and yours as you focus on HIM.

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  6. Good post, Liberty.
    It sounds like you're suffering from Christmas burnout. You have my sympathy. I think Christmas is a stressor for lots of folks…cards, gifts, parties…it can be overwhleming.

    In our family we've decided that Christmas gift giving is for the kids. When a couple has children they stop getting gifts and their kid(s) get them instead. It's one way to manage the inflating gift list.

    We've also pared our card list the last few years. We notice lots of other people are to.

    In spite of the hassles, I hope you have a Merry Christmas. Peace and Blessings

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  7. @Tracy & E.G., Thanks.

    E.G., those are some good ideas. I doubt those suggestions would be taken with any weight since my M-I-L seems to have the love language of gift giving (both to give and receive.) Most of our families are resistant to any sort of change. Oh well.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your struggles during this season with us, Liberty. It's hard on a lot of people this time of year, for a variety of reasons. Many are alone or have lost loved ones near Christmas; others live in families that don't share their faith in Jesus, and so feel an emptiness that they can't join with their family in celebrating the true Reason for the holiday.

    Someone I associate with on a daily basis is going through a divorce, and her two college aged children are understandably angry about the situation. It's bad enough their parents are splitting up, but what bad timing. I can't imagine what this Christmas is going to be like for them. I know she'll do her best to make their holiday and winter break a good one, but they're going to be facing some uncomfortable adjustments, and I suspect there will be some emotional blowups.

    As you say, though, regardless of what we're going through, we are blessed, and we need to focus on that truth.

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  9. @Traci, something you said hit a nerve. When I was 17, my mother filed for divorce the first week in December. Really, ever since then–and this was over a decade ago!–I've struggled with Christmas. I can understand your associate's kids' struggle.

    I have a friend whose parents recently got a divorce–after separating 8 years ago. Sometimes, I don't think parents really fully “get” how kids–even adult kids–are affected by divorce, especially at Christmastime.

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  10. “Sometimes, I don't think parents really fully “get” how kids–even adult kids–are affected by divorce”

    I whole-heartedly agree, Liberty. My husband and I were already married with one child when his parents split, and though my M-I-L believed it the best thing it nearly killed my husband, even though he was no longer a “kid”.

    I will be praying for you. May God bring you a new reason to rejoice this season. God bless you, Liberty.

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  11. Thanks, Sarah! It's amazing to me how people perceive different things, and while one thinks everyone will be fine, they usually aren't, even if those that aren't don't let on that they're not. Which I think has been my case. :/

    I'm hoping that this time next year, my life will be calmer and I'll find more reasons to rejoice and actually enjoy the Christmas season.

    I'll say this much: 2010 will be a year I won't soon forget! (I have a blog post in a couple weeks echoing this…)

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  12. it used to be difficult when i was a kid because my mum didnt know about my stepmum at that time. i think i always enjoyed christmas at my dad's more but my broher hated it when my half sisters were born and seperated off and started to stay in his room except from mealtimes. my mum died of cancer when i was 15 and i think that brought my brother back to us. that was when the christmas magic came back.

    this may be a late comment but thats my christmas story

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