Christmas, a time when more than any other time of the year, our lives tend to be fraught with frustration, disappointments, and a hectic display of frenzied and useless effort. Somehow, we always manage to fall short of the idealized magical Christmas filled with tantalizing moments of joy, heartwarming family times, and both the giving and receiving of "the perfect gift". Everywhere we are bombarded with warm and cozy images of loving families with adoring smiles and songs in their hearts. We struggle with renewed effort to somehow be "good" enough this year to experience that magical Christmas.
Here are some humble thoughts from someone who has never managed to have a "perfect" Christmas, on how to have a better than perfect time this year. First, don't worry. Don't worry if; the tree isn't big enough, the present costly enough, the egg-nog isn't spiced correctly, the turkey burns, the children misbehave, and you receive the eighth commuter coffee cup in three years. Real life is not the images we see portrayed. We are not perfect people. Family members are difficult to get along with, finances are limited, and regardless of what the article says, everything cannot be scheduled in ten easy steps.
A wonderful Christmas is one when things go wrong, when people do things to disappoint us, when we don't have the money to buy what the kids are asking for, and when the cat drags the turkey off the kitchen counter and consumes half of it before any one notices. It is a wonderful Christmas because this is when we learn to love ourselves and others. Others disappoint us and we can give the greatest gift in return, forgiveness. We can exchange bitterness for forgiveness across the counter of our hearts. Money is tight, but with laughter we can decorate the deformed tree they gave away at the tree lot, pretending that we have rescued it from a Christmas of despair. Perhaps the story of the tree that almost didn't make it for any ones Christmas is the one the kids will remember the longest. Instead of screams and accusations as to who left the kitchen door open for the cat to get in, we can respond with humor and turkey sandwiches, (along with a prize for the person who finds the most cat hairs in their sandwich). True magic is sowing forgiveness where there is injury, acceptance where there is ridicule, humor where there is criticism, love where there is hatred.
So, this Christmas look forward to the mishaps, knowing that they too are a part of a wonderful Christmas. Go easy on yourself and allow yourself the luxury of not worrying, knowing that God will gives us grace to deal with those less than "perfect" moments. After all, that's why God gave us the ultimate gift of His Son, because He loved us and knew that by ourselves we would never be perfect enough. Jesus did it for us, that's why He came. The best place to be on Christmas is not where the tree is the biggest or the food the best, but where we can sow laughter and love, and that is right where we are.