It happens this time every year; my annual holiday let down. Each and every December I find myself longing for the way I imagine Christmas should be against the way it actually is. Why do I do this?
Perhaps my mind longs for the days of The Saturday Evening Post and Norman Rockwell's portraits of family life. I imagine my life on his canvas and expect my turkey to be perfectly roasted and my children praying angelically on their knees while carolers merrily stroll across my lawn.
Instead the picture at my house is quite the opposite; the dog eats the garland, the prelit tree is half dark, the ornaments are shattered in their box, the cookies are burnt and I scream and pound my head every time Bing Crosby wishes me "Mele Kalikimaka" from my Midwest bleak winter landscape.
No, my laundry is backed up, my kids are snooping in every closet and the in-laws are on their way to my house and it's not even close to clean. I've ruined two batches of fudge, the family heirloom sugar cookie recipe is lost, I'm hiding my credit card bill from my husband and I've run out of wrapping paper, tape and time.
It's the most wonderful time of the year?
I would much rather be the subject of a Rockwell painting. I long to be cuddled up on the couch with a book and hot chocolate. I want all my gifts wrapped and under the tree. I want a roaring fireplace and my kids to sit admiringly around my feet as they are extremely grateful for the presents they'll receive.
But the more I dwell on how I wish it was the more I miss out on what I actually have now.
That's the problem with expectations. They can ruin us every time. Whenever I find myself comparing the reality of an event against what I imagined it should be I get disappointed. While this is a royal waste of mental energy it is also unfair to judge what is real against my perceptions. Am I the only one who struggles with this?
I must remember Christmas isn't about picture perfect scenarios. Nor is it about beautiful plates of cookies and impressing my guests. In fact, Christmas, despite all the commercialism to the contrary, isn't even about buying stuff.
I get so annoyed with the companies who are tempting me to believe that I can be revered this holiday season if I would just give their product. Giving gifts isn't about me. If I give a gift to get attention I've missed the mark altogether.
In my opinion, Christmas isn't about getting at all. It's about giving.
Giving from our hearts. Giving to be a blessing.
Giving not born of pretty packages with ribbons and bows.
Christmas is the beautiful time of the year where, under the warm glow of twinkle lights, we take time - and how precious is our time these days - to give joyously. No matter what the television says.
I think it's hard to remember this. I think our culture screams at us to consume. As if giving the best gift is a competition.
Gifts are great, don't get me wrong! I love to give them. I love to get them. But I'm not owed a single one. If I could remember that this year perhaps I won't waste time being disappointed over some trinket or electronic that is or isn't under my tree.
For what we deserve isn't a pretty package. The story of the birth of the Christ child reminds us that despite his humble beginning, love intervenes with good news and hope. And love still finds us today in the midst of our tangled lights, family mayhem and quest for material possessions.
Yes, this Christmastime don't let your imgainations take over and overshadow the blessings that surround you now. I believe if I could commission Normal Rockwell today, he would make my crowded, crazy house look as if were a happy home. Because indeed it is. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!