Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Reality of Christmas

I love Christmas.  I love Christmastime.  I love December and winter and snow and traditions and celebrating the birth of our Savior.  I love everything about it.  So much so that every year I have the most perfect vision of what Christmas will be for me and my family.  And every year, without fail, that vision isn't realized.  And it hurts.  A lot.  Just once I want that Christmas that I have in my head.  The ones like in the movies and on every blasted news feed on my phone.

Social media has ruined Christmas for me.  In a way that has me thinking "bah humbug" with every scroll of my finger.  Every picture of every perfectly decorated Christmas tree and every perfectly executed tradition and every perfectly coordinated outfit for every perfect Christmas card photo has me becoming more bitter and heartbroken at the reality that is my Christmas, which is this:

Decorations are hauled down from the attic at best by December 3rd or 4th, but more realistically, the 5th or 6th.  By the time we actually pull said decorations out of their dusty bins and put them up around the house, a week has gone by and seven pockets on our advent will never be used.  The adorable advent that hangs on the wall with 25 pockets that, on the first year we had it, were each filled with a slip of paper that had a Christmas related activity that we would do that day: bake cookies, make Christmas cards, go see Christmas lights, etc.  That first year we diligently partook in every activity, no matter the strain on our time or bank account.  The second year, that advent gave me anxiety to look at but I had started a tradition and traditions can't be broken, right?  We did our best.  The third year (last year) I almost didn't take it out of the bin altogether.  I actually don't remember what we even put in the pockets.  This year I'm deciding between telling the kids it was eaten by mice or that some poor family needed it much more than we did.  

I used to spend days preparing handmade Christmas card (and hundreds of dollars, when all was said and done) with our latest family picture attached to send out to family and friends.  Over the years I simplified the card more and more until finally resorting to the ever classic Costco pre-made photo Christmas card, and even that died a painful death over two years ago.  Sending out Christmas cards of any kind are but a distant memory in this house.  Family picture with coordinating outfits? Ain't nobody got time for that!

Every year I have bold aspirations of wrapping as I buy.  Yet every Christmas Eve I am up till the wee hours of the morning watching the only Christmas movies I will watch that year as I wrap like an elf on crack.  Which means my tree skirt sits barren below my Christmas tree until literally Christmas morning.  My poor children make comments about how other families have their Christmas presents under their trees already and I snap back with some obnoxious comment about how only the kids who will actually never have any presents under their tree to open Christmas morning have the right to complain, while secretly feeling plagued with guilt at yet another Christmas failure on my part.

Oh, and the wrapping? In my head it's always going to look like this:

But in reality, it's always more like this:

We have no Christmas traditions, really, other than watching The Polar Express on Christmas Eve while drinking hot chocolate (and by we I mean the three of us that stay awake *coughbill*).  No new Christmas pajamas to unwrap, no caroling or traipsing up into the snow-covered mountains to cut down a fresh pine tree and go sledding...thank goodness the Elf on the Shelf came out after my kids were too old for it, or I would lie awake every night haunted by all the clever antics our little non-existent elf wasn't up to.

Please don't get me wrong.  I am in no way critiquing or making fun of or judging anyone who does any or all of these things or who has the perfect Christmas I dream of every year.  I'm just jealous, suffering from a hearty dose of good old fashioned, unadulterated envy.  I try and live vicariously through those who do have the picture perfect Christmas, to be happy that someone, somewhere, has it all together in the month of December.  But mostly I feel like this.

I won't give up.  Maybe, just maybe, one day my Christmas will look like my Pinterest board.  In the meantime, I make myself feel better by remembering that Christmas has nothing to do with decorations and traditions and positionable elves with questionable behavior.

"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 

It has only to do with this.

And nothing more.