Things That Don’t Belong on Pedestals: Holidays

(This is the second post about Things That Don’t Belong on Pedestals. The first, on relationships, can be found here.)

A few weeks ago we celebrated Thanksgiving, and in a couple weeks we will celebrate Christmas. Soon after there will be New Year’s, then spring brings Easter, summer the Fourth of July, and a few other smaller holidays sprinkled in there as well.

I really like holidays. I look forward to them, anticipate them, even check websites that countdown to them. And in the process, I sometimes expect too much out of them, and end up putting holidays on a pedestal.

My family's Christmas tree from last year

My family’s Christmas tree from last year

Traditionally, the day after Christmas is one of my least favorite days of the year. As a kid it wasn’t so bad; it was a great day to play with all the new toys, and if we were lucky, Mom and Dad were both home from work. Yet as I got older and looked forward to Christmas more, the letdown of the day after became all the more pointed. For weeks, even months, I had looked forward to Christmas day, and all of a sudden, in a flurry of family and food and wrapping paper, it was over.

Now, I’m even more aware of how quickly the actual holiday goes by. As I’m trying to value the true meaning of Christmas, and be intentional about experiencing Advent as a season of waiting, I have to realize that the 24 hours that are labeled “Christmas” are…just that. 24 hours. No more, no less, than any other day. The same goes for all the other holidays we celebrate throughout the year–we give them a label of holiday and expect them to be perfect, when in reality, they won’t.

One year I had the stomach flu on Christmas. Not how I wanted to spend my day, but it was one of the only times as a child I got to watch the Santa Claus parade on TV. For years I seemed to get a cold on every major holiday, and that came true again a few weeks ago on Thanksgiving. Because although I put so much weight on holidays, expecting them to be perfect and live up to my every perfect wish…they are a day. Things may go wrong, things may go right, but the clock will still move at the same pace it does every other day of the year.

Not that there’s anything wrong with celebrating holidays; I’m still very much looking forward to Christmas. But for me to expect them to be perfect, idyllic, postcard-worthy scenes–that’s not accurate, nor does it help me enjoy them. A better way to look at them might be to appreciate holidays for what they are, but accept that all will not go as planned, and embrace the chaos as it does or doesn’t come.

Because holidays don’t belong on pedestals.

Til next time…


p.s. Do you ever expect too much out of holidays? How does that affect the way you do or do not enjoy them?

Christmas Socks and Struggle

Christmas is coming. Not even 3 weeks away now.

I often struggle with Christmas a bit. Not because I don’t like it; I love the decorations, the excitement and anticipation, the music, the time with family and friends, the food, the fun…and yes, I kind of like presents, too.

Which is where my struggle lies.

Sometimes I feel like a bad Christian when I say I like presents. 

Photo Credit: Flicrk User RVWithTito, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flicrk User RVWithTito, Creative Commons

The reality is, I don’t have much money at this point in my life. New things are fairly rare for me. Last week I spent $5 on 2 pairs of Christmas socks and had quite the mental debate over whether or not I should have purchased them (I did, and wore a pair today). Christmas only comes once a year, and it’s about the only time I get any measurable amount of new things. But to say I get them guilt-free? No.

Because although I like getting new things, I know that’s not the point of Christmas. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried more and more to be intentional about focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not only a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but also a hopeful longing for when he returns, when the brokenness will be over and all will be as it should.

How do I reconcile these seemingly conflicting sides of me? The side that appreciates and enjoys new things, and the side that wants to focus on what Christmas is really supposed to be about?

If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Until I find a perfect solution, I’m working towards an imperfect one. The past few years I’ve included something on the Christmas list I give my parents that’s not for me. There are so many organizations, from ones in my own city to those across the globe, that do so much good in our world; so I ask for a donation to be made to one of them as one of my gifts.

Whatever you do, please don’t think I’m telling you this to brag. The not-so-pretty truth is that yes, I’ve done this, but not entirely wholeheartedly. The thought has crossed my mind that maybe I’d get another movie, sweater, or book if I didn’t request some of the money be given elsewhere. In the past I’ve asked for TOMS; so yes, I still get a gift, but a child receives a pair of shoes in the process.

Is it a perfect way to keep the focus of Christmas where it belongs? No. If I were truly selfless, I’d ask for no gifts for myself, and instead of giving generic gifts to relatives and friends, maybe I’d make sure I purchase ones that support various organizations. Even when I’m in a different spot financially though, and able to feel less guilty about buying such things as Christmas socks, I don’t know that I’ll request no presents for myself. Maybe; but maybe not.

So here I sit, in the tension of first world Christmas, feeling kind of like a bad Christian for liking presents, but not feeling selfless enough to give them all up.

Do you ever struggle with wanting new things at Christmas and trying to keep the focus where it belongs? How do you keep the focus of Christmas where it should be–on Jesus?


Til next time…