I’m feeling a little guilty this Christmas. For the first time since the kids were born, I’m not sending out photo Christmas cards. It’s been a long time since my boys were cute little things posing in Christmas sweaters for the annual card picture, but through the years I’ve managed to keep up the tradition, until now. I haven’t had all three of my boys in the same place since last Christmas, almost everyone I know can keep up with my life via Facebook and honestly, my youngest looks like a terrorist when he first gets home from college. (I get that shaving and exams don’t mix, but would it kill him to at least trim it up a little before he gets home? I swear he scared the dogs when he walked in.) I have been spending way too much time and mental energy trying to design our card, not to mention the aforementioned guilt. I just have to say no to that particular Christmas task and concentrate on other things to make the season merry and bright.
We all have one area where we really make a special effort at Christmastime. I have spent more than one Christmas Eve frantically knitting the last bit of a scarf or sweater or blanket and this year will be no different. To me, making a handmade gift is worth the extra time. Some people bake dozens of cookies to deliver to the entire neighborhood or put up a forest of beautifully decorated trees. You throw an incredible gingerbread-house-decorating party that is a ton of effort to pull off, but brings joy to all who attend. But it’s not possible to go all out on every bit of Christmas prep (well, without losing your sanity).
Last year I wrote about embracing the perfectly imperfect Christmas, but we (women especially) feel pressure to make everything “just right”. Make sure you decorate every inch of your house as if you were the love-child of Martha Stewart and Clark Griswold. Spend hours piercing oranges with cloves and constructing elaborate Christmas scenes complete with woodland creatures crafted from marzipan. I just saw in a magazine that you can cut dried hydrangea blossoms before the frost (that’s something we have up here, sorry to frighten you) then fashion them into trees for your entryway. If you catch me making dried hydrangea trees, please get me treatment.
All of us have the tendency to be too much Martha and too little Mary this time of the year. We take on the cooking and cleaning and shopping and wrapping and that’s okay. We do it to make the holiday beautiful and special for those we love. (Even on that first Christmas, the woman did all the work.) But we can lose the real meaning of the season amid the tinsel and bows. Mary said yes, and her yes changed the world. But maybe we need to say no every once in a while during this season, to truly appreciate what Mary’s “yes” means to us.
So this year I’m giving myself the gift of saying no to stressing over getting the perfect picture, addressing and mailing scores of cards. I’m only going to send a few, mainly to older family members who aren’t online, but I’m going to write long, personal greetings. Which not only frees up time and energy for reflection (and yes, for knitting!) but is really in keeping with the spirit of the season. What are you going to say no to this year—in order to more fully appreciate Mary’s yes?
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,