Are you trying to micromanage Christmas this year? Are you working too hard to create the picture perfect holiday? What if you decided to do less and be more?
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
Braving the crowds to hunt for that “one-of-kind” gift, wrestling with wrapping paper and bows to create beautifully wrapped packages, hanging fresh mistletoe and pine boughs to fill your home with the scents of the season, or laboring over cut-out Christmas cookies with gold-flecked icing–is this how you plan to spend the week before Christmas?
Been there, done that. Okay, if I am truly honest, still doing some of that.
On this Mindful Monday, I am struggling to let go of my tendency to micromanage every detail of Christmas.
And the struggle is real. Can you relate?
GIVE UP MICROMANAGING
In 2011 I read an article by Laura Munson entitled “Why I am Not Micromanaging Christmas this Year.” in The Huffington Post. Laura Munson is a New York Times best-selling author and the founder of Haven Writing Retreats. You can check her out at her website: www.lauramunson.com
Recently while researching for a speaking engagement I gave on how to prepare your heart for Christmas, I came across a weathered and wrinkled copy of this article. I laughed out loud as I reread her hilarious descriptions of Christmas. She is witty and spot-on. But as Munson bears her soul by openly sharing how dread and resentment crept into her holiday preparations, it resonated with me on a deep level. She encouraged me to rethink Christmas and my need to micromanage everything.
Please enjoy an excerpt from this article:
In the last few years, I’ve mildly dreaded the holiday season for all its glut and Amazon boxes and blow-up Costco snowmen and braggadocio holiday cards with “perfect” families in matching white linen on a beach … only for it all to end in a hemmorage of ribbons and bows and tape and wrapping paper, kicked into the mudroom and eventually burned. I miss the little girl in me that used to sit in her window seat and gaze at the moonlit snow — who knew a holy night when she saw one. I’ve become resentful somehow of Christmas. In other words, I’d like to punch the Kay Jeweler people in the throat. It begins with the manic Black Friday and ends in buyer’s remorse and an overheated living room full of things you thought for a few weeks you couldn’t live without and turns out … you could. For a holiday that is supposed to be about love and wonder incarnate and stopping to honor it, I’m with Charlie Brown — Christmas has gone berserk. But mostly what I’ve come to resent is the expectation.
This year I’ve decided to rethink Christmas altogether. I don’t need to bully myself into feeling “the Christmas spirit.” It doesn’t need to be a season that erases pain and promises much of anything. It can be whatever it needs to be this year. I want to go lightly and untraditionally. I want to see if Christmas comes without ribbons and bows, Grinch-style. I got “It’s A Wonderful Life” over with last week. It’s just not going to be like that. We’ll fight over the Christmas tree. Ornaments will break. Somebody won’t get the latest in technology they’ve been begging for. Somebody will forget a god-child’s gift. In fact, this year, so far, I’ve done it all “wrong.” It’s the 14th, and I haven’t bought one gift. I didn’t plan a Christmas photo shoot — in fact, our card shows the four of us with greasy hair standing on a marginally frozen lake, taken by a complete stranger. I didn’t get my paper whites forced, so we’ll have those beloved white blooms in time for Valentine’s day. We’re not having our sledding party — we can’t afford it. There’s no snow on the ground anyway. And yesterday, the tree fell over.
I used to do it all so well. Year after year. A Dickens-worthy Christmas party with a half-mile of luminaria lovingly leading our guests up our snowy driveway. Live music and caroling and roast beasts laid out on my grandmother’s best china and silver on the diningroom table. Handmade cedar garlands splayed on the mantle, the olive wood creche placed lovingly in its branches. Pepper berries dripping from the crystal chandelier. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters cued up for the kid’s race down the stairs, all filmed with a fully charged movie camera. Santa had special wrapping paper. My father’s 1925 Lionel train ran around the dining room while we read Truman Capote’s A Christmas Visitor. Gingerbread houses. Cookies from scratch with marbled icing. Neighborhood gifts (usually homemade jam) delivered by Flexible Flyer and smiling children in hand-knit hats. Sing-along Messiah. It all sounds exhausting to me this year. Maybe those butterflies will come anyway. But I’m not forcing them to.
I’m just going to let Christmas carry me this year. Quietly. Little moments in pjs. A walk in the woods with the dogs, even if no one wants to come with me. I’m making CDs for people. That’s about it. Sorry if you’re on my list. In fact, yesterday when my son and I were making Christmas cookies, we got so giddy we started using the dough on the other side of the cookie cutters. So along with our santas and stars and gingerbread men, we made cookies that look a lot like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and alligators. We almost wet our pants we were laughing so hard.
That’s what I want this Christmas to be. That’s my expectation: to expect nothing. And to trust that grace happens when we least expect it.
LESS DOING, MORE BEING
For the past few weeks, I have been blogging about how to not lose your “merry” this season, how to do Christmas differently, and how to embrace unexpected gifts. Truthfully, I have been preaching to myself. And because I am an impatient and slow learner, I need to be mindful and intentional during this week leading up to Christmas in remembering it is less about what I do and more about who I am.
So here are the simple reminders I want to use to avoid micromanaging Christmas. I hope they help you too…
LESS BUSY, MORE BEAUTY
LESS WORRY, MORE WONDER
LESS GETTING, MORE GIVING
LESS HUSTLE, MORE HUSH
LESS ME, MORE HIM (JESUS)
This moving piece of art depicts Mary embracing God’s call to carry the Savior of the world. It was created by the visual arts ministry, DOOR #2, at my home church, Christ Community Chapel.
Notice how Mary is not doing anything. She is being; she is receiving; she is accepting and embracing. This is the posture I challenge myself and all of you to adopt. It is the best way we can avoid micromanaging Christmas. Let’s hold our arms open wide to welcome grace and forget about everything else.
Since the next two Mindful Mondays fall on Christmas and New Year’s Day respectively, I will be taking some time off from blogging. I hope to connect with you in again in 2018. Until then, I pray grace, peace, and joy to you and yours this Christmas season. May you embrace Emmanuel–God with us!