I wouldn’t say I’m a Scrooge… and I’m definitely not a Grinch. I don’t go out of my way to spoil Christmas spirit or cheer for anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised though if I am related to those nefarious thieves of holiday jolly.
Why claim a miserly, spirit-seeing old man or a green-faced cave dweller as relatives?
Christmas just isn’t my favorite holiday.
There, I said it. Maybe my shoes are too tight. Feel free to throw your half-eaten, sticky candy canes and soggy hot chocolate marshmallows at me.
It’s not that I don’t love the Reason for the Season. As a weekly-church-going Episcopalian who teaches Sunday school and who has found much comfort in our Cathedral walls and through my MOPs groups, the biggest challenge I’ve faced regarding Christmas is making sure my children don’t lose sight of the original purpose for the holiday.
Still. You don’t catch a Christmas tree up in our house before December 1. No way. Seeing Christmas decorations or hearing a Christmas jingle on the radio while I still have a pumpkin on my front porch and Halloween candy in my mouth makes me stare down from my cave with a sour, Grinchy frown. Growing up, our tree was decorated on Christmas Eve, as was my father’s family’s tradition. It made Christmas Eve exciting and special. With four kids and a long break after Christmas, we don’t wait until that late to put up our tree, mostly in case we go out of town, but it will never go up a day before December 1. Never. I know, you’re thinking: You’re a Mean One.
Maybe its because I don’t buy so much into Santa and don’t want my kids to either — mine have always been terrified of him, so much so, it terrified them that he would even come into our house, so I’ve had to downplay him over the years. As they grow older, I want them to understand not every child has a great Christmas, that the world is unfair and broken and Tiny Tims do exist and there’s not always a way to save them. It’s hard getting them all excited about a jolly elf while also telling them we need to go to the store and buy presents for the children from our church’s Angel Tree. (“Why Mommy, doesn’t Santa visit them also?”)
Maybe it’s because we have Thanksgiving, a birthday, and sometimes Hanukkah (the date for Hanukkah changes every year) to get through before my over-organized and already stressed mom brain can manage Christmas. It’s not fair to celebrate Christmas, I believe, until we have taken time to give thanks and appreciate what we already have. It’s not time for a tree until we have some birthday cake and enjoy a special day with our beautiful daughter. Santa Claus can wait a minute so we can also appreciate the traditions of my husband’s side of the family, and have latkes, a Hanukkah gift from Grandma and Grandpa, and play dreidel.
And Christmas, let’s be honest, is a heck of a lot of work for moms. It is work I am more than willing to do for the sake and love of my kids, but it is definitely more work. On top of the every day of ballet, soccer, lunches and field trips, laundry, dishes and everyday life… ba, humbug! There’s not time enough in the day already for me to get through things, let alone throw in more events, last-minute food and gift card requests, and decorations on top of it all. I feel like I have already gotten us parred down to what is really important and special for Christmas, and even that can be too much on top of the daily grind of work and school, practice and rehearsals. Not to mention twin toddlers who like to break the ornaments on the tree, eat — in one sitting — every single piece of chocolate candy from the Advent calendars, and who always find a way to get their hands on our Elf, no matter where he hides.
I guess my lack of Christmas love may also stem from straight-up confusion. Why so much obvious effort toward love, cheer, charity, and goodwill toward others during this part of the year? Why not all year long? Hopefully, for most people, it is all year long, and I just don’t realize that’s everyone’s daily MO. Maybe I need a little more faith in others. Maybe, I need a little more Christmas spirit all year long, and not just at the holidays.
This year my little boy, my sweet 6-year-old, asked if I could take him to buy presents for his brother and sisters. He asked if we had enough time before Christmas to go together and do that before Santa came. No Christmas carol really gets me in the holiday spirit anymore — but my son’s sweet little face, enthusiasm, and earnest words made my Grinch heart grow three sizes that day.