Are You Ready For Christmas?

“Are you ready for Christmas?” Stop asking that question! For me, who hates shopping and particularly hates gift shopping, it’s simply a catalyst to extra stress and pressure. It’s an easy conversation starter, granted, and I am sure that I have been known to say it at times myself (being a bit of an idiot in the small talk department and eager to latch onto any cliché I can come up with), but if I hear it one more time this year I just may go a bit nuts.

No, I am not ready. Truth be told, I’ve been lying in bed reading since about 7:30. Yes, there are things I should be doing, but the thought stresses me out, so I just retreat. I have groceries to buy (and since I don’t make a list and plan well, I will probably forget at least one key ingredient.) I have presents to buy….for MY PARENTS, for example!!!!! They are horrible to buy for. They buy what they want, and are constantly in downsizing mode. They don’t like gift cards, they don’t give hints, and dad especially would prefer not to have things to open. I sometimes just don’t give them anything….that sounds bad, doesn’t it? For Dad, especially, that is fine, and Mom too really, but why do I still feel stressed when I can’t come up with a good idea?

I’ve got friends who are amazing gift-givers….and on one hand I don’t feel the need to compete with them (because they are exceptional people and I am hopeless and I know will love me anyway, even if I arrive empty-handed), but I do want to honor them with something special. They are worth it. But chances are, no…they won’t get gifts or if they are they won’t be great. Or they won’t be on time. I surrender. I will never be the coolest gift-giving friend. (Unless you are a kid, and then I have a chance.)

Thankfully some of the stores I bought from offered free gift wrapping this year, so there aren’t a lot of gifts to wrap, but those that are will throw me in a last minute tizzy as I get ready to run out the door on Christmas day. Scissors, tape, paper, tags, bags, tissue paper, and ribbon….will I have all I need? Probably not.

I have baked nothing so far this year (so don’t expect the gift of baked goods) and the caramel cake I said I would make for our family Christmas? Of course I have never made it before. Yes, they say you shouldn’t do that, but when would I test recipes if not for using family and friends as guinea pigs? They come out OK on occasion. And there will be plenty of other food! The salad I am making? That will be OK, if I make the aforementioned trip to the grocery store and actually buy the fixings. But have I put any thought into what will go into it? Nooooo!

And then there is half of a day of work tomorrow, a Christmas Eve service to attend, and a trip to Greensboro to participate in a 20+ year tradition of Christmas caroling at the hospital. So how many hours until Christmas?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we fill our plate to overwhelming?

I am not in a total frenzy…..at least externally. When the stress gets up there, I retreat, so right now I appear calm. Thankfully I was born into a family influenced by my grandmother Lois McKinney, who never seemed riled by anything like this. She knew most things were not worth getting worked up over. I’ve got a touch of her in me, along with my grandsha on my mom’s side who was also calm in a storm, but a bit of discontent and high expectations from the other two grandparents. My mother was the “get it all done” type, and my dad, well, he just doesn’t seem to notice it is a day different than other days. As for me, the nature is at war in times like these.

When I analyze it, these things that stress me out are not what I consider to be important about Christmas, or important to my relationships. I need to release myself from that stress. The real reason for Christmas is not about a box or about meeting an impossible standard. The real reason for Christmas was to release us from that pressure. We can’t be good enough. We can’t do it all.

“For unto you is born a Savior.”

We are the reason for the season. We are the reason the Christmas gift, the Christ child, was given. If there was no one else in the world, the gift would have still been given for you. Because you are that important to God. If we are willing to receive the gift, we are ready for Christmas. That is all it takes to celebrate in the manner it was intended.

Relax, and enjoy. It is a time we should feel most loved and at peace. Not because of how we are treated by others, but because of who we are before God. Am I ready for Christmas? Why yes, I am. Bring it on! Emmanuel. God is with us. Come, let us adore him.

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