Christmas is 15 days away and I haven’t decorated my house yet. By not decorated, I mean not…one…little…bit. No garland, no wreath, no lights, nothing, nada. And I celebrate Christmas. It’s not like I’m a non-celebrater. I will be celebrating Christ’s birth. So why is it I’m feeling like a bad person for not decorating?
Once again…it’s other people. No one in particular, just the sense that the rest of my family, friends, my neighborhood, even the Starbucks where I’m sitting to write this, are all in. The “story” I tell myself is that I’m lazy, not a good person for not decorating. Any good Christmas celebrating person would have the boughs of holly, decked the halls and the tree and be singing silent night so many times they’re doing it in their sleep.
Do you see it? It’s the the story in my head creeping up again. Everyone is doing it. If you’re not doing it, you’re lazy, you must not really celebrate Christmas. But that’s not the truth. Instead, it’s an unsuspecting way that we can beat ourselves down. I’ve talked about it before, the way that looking at the world, at “what everyone else is doing,” creates negative messages that invade our minds. My frequent loop is about my body, but those messages come through in many different ways. It could be about your body, your role as a wife, your parenting, your career…really, it’s those messages that start with “should,” and leave a train wreck of emotions leading us to feeling like we’re less of a person for whatever it is we’re not doing.
I’d like to be able to suggest an easy way out of this loop, but there isn’t one. Instead, it takes practice, just like anything else. It takes sitting in the space where you are and looking at the truth instead of those messages in your head. This is a time of the year when there are a lot of pressures to be “all that” to everyone. Buy the gifts, send the cards, decorate the house, plan and prepare a great meal, all while keeping up your daily life, basically be “all that and a bag of chips.” The impossible standard I say, at least impossible if you want to maintain your sanity and enjoy the reason we celebrate Christmas.
What would it look like if spent time thinking about what is really important to you and your most important relationships this Christmas season? Choose to do what is important, what holds meaning for you. Maybe it is decorating, but it may be spending time with people you love. Or it could be serving other people, showing them love. Maybe it really is decorating and if it is, that’s awesome! Honestly, I’ll probably decorate too, but I want it to match what I’m feeling on the inside, creating space to truly celebrate and love on my husband, children and family.
Will you take a minute to look at the path you’re on and consider if you’re going to arrive at Christmas frazzled and exhausted? If you are, consider making a shift in the path your on so that you will wake up on Christmas morning rested, thankful and ready to enjoy celebrating Christ’s birth. Going against what “everyone,” is doing isn’t always easy – especially in our minds – but choosing a purposeful path is authentic, it’s brave. And so are you.