You could say that, like Scrooge, my heart was two sizes too small, but for a very long time I hated Christmas. I didn’t always hate it. I have very fond memories of the holidays as a child on the farm with all of my cousins, getting a Troll treehouse and a bass guitar, but sometime in my later teens Christmas stopped being magical and started being a pain.
A History of Hatred
It might have started with my dad’s deployments overseas or the long car rides to see relatives. Maybe it escalated in college when I had no money to buy gifts for people. I have never been one to want to receive gifts. I hate surprises and prefer getting items I need over receiving random stuff I will never use or wear. It could have had something to do with my many years working retail and having to deal with crazy shoppers. Perhaps all of these things contributed because one thing is for certain: I fell out of love with Christmas.
I hated decorating. I saw it as a waste of time. Why spend hours dolling up your house only to have to turn around and undo it all a month later? And in fact, we never actually spent Christmas at home enjoying our efforts; we are always somewhere else! (Though I will say that I have always liked wrapping gifts so even if I didn’t fully decorate there were beautifully-wrapped gifts sitting in the living room.)
My hatred of the holiday got worse after I was married. There were always family fights about where we were going to spend holidays. We’d drive up to 8 hours to spend a day with Grandma and Grandpa only to have to turn around and head back straight away so we wouldn’t miss my in-laws Christmas party. I hated feeling so overtaxed. When the baby was born the guilt and stress I felt during the holidays was almost unbearable. I am not usually a crier or emotional person, but my mom will tell you I that I called her multiple times those first couple Christmases with a baby and cried about all the things.
The Turning Point
But then something happened. Our little boy started to grow up and he seemed to spark a new love of Christmas into my soul. He is like his father and he LOVES Christmas. Seeing the joy that all the lights and decorations bring him makes me want to decorate more and more every year. Now that he is a little older, he loves to help! Each year, I have found myself decorating earlier and earlier. We read Christmas books and watch Christmas movies, we bake cookies, and we decorate ginger bread houses. We wander through Bentleyville and drive around looking at Christmas lights–all things I wouldn’t have even thought of doing 5 years ago.
The holidays are still a stressful time of year for me with traveling and gift-buying and being pulled in ten different directions, but I am trying my best to not stress about the little things. Seeing how much joy the holidays bring to my child makes every mile traveled, and every penny spent, worth it. I try my best to view the holidays through his eyes and experience that same excitement he does. You could say that my heart has grown three sizes and I have embraced the true meaning of Christmas.
Holidays can be a stressful time for everyone so I challenge each of you to take a step back and really see the joy that it brings our children and the people around us. Embrace that joy and love and feel that holiday cheer, and when all else fails, a holiday drink from Starbucks can usually jump start any Scrooge’s heart!