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The Christmas Pivot

This Christmas holiday, I’m torn between regret that my kids are grown, and joy that they are forging their own lives and their own traditions with their kids. Torn between regret that they live so far away, and joy that they still WANT to be with us for Christmas, however, this isn’t always possible.

I am rethinking my priorities. Has Christmas been more about my family than the birth of Jesus? After, all…though our culture has made it a mad, materialistic rush after gifts and the perfect Christmas decor, still…at its heart…Christmas is about the Christ-child.

This year, I am grateful that we have one grown child nearby, and will have the joy of focusing on him, rejoicing in his life, and sharing several Christmas events with him. Soon, he will have his own family and create his own traditions, so for a little while, I can pretend life isn’t all that different.

But it does change, doesn’t it? As we get older, and our kids go their ways…we must step back. The stepping back continues until we blink and find ourselves GREAT-grandparents (I’m not there yet) and then what? How do we accept the seventh and eighth and if we are blessed, ninth decade of life with grace and generosity of spirit?

That’s a tough one for me. I don’t adapt to change well, and spout off unkind words sometimes, when I’m in the thick of change. I must have time to adjust. This Christmas, for me, is about adjusting.

The adjustments are as follows (at least this is what is going on in my head):

1) I am no longer the HUB of Christmas action, and it’s hard to embrace this reality.

2) Even when I was the HUB, I didn’t do a very good job of it. I’m not the most patient person, I’m goal-oriented and road-mappy and get upset when someone doesn’t appreciate all my hard work of preparation or changes my carefully concocted plans at the last minute. I long to be the woman that never gets irritated, always has a hot bowl of something on the stove (I don’t enjoy cooking), and endless patience with the chaos and loud shrieks of children. Sigh. Oh well, I have other attributes.

3) I cannot wait to get my house back in order after everyone leaves. In truth, the minute the gifts are unwrapped, I’ll walk around plunging everything into a trash bag if someone isn’t already doing it.

4) I make myself so exhausted trying to keep order that I cannot really enjoy my people. Isn’t that stupid? Yes. Yes, it is. And part of this adjustment is looking honestly at what works. I want to be an enjoyable entity that blesses my people, not alienate them. However, it’s a two-way street.

5) Often, I leave Jesus out of the picture. Yes, I have Scripture-themed ornaments on the tree and angels around the house during the season, but when it comes to the gifts it’s all about the ripping of paper and squeals of delight. I’ve been too exhausted by preparation to focus on reading the Christmas story, and one thing I want to do forever…is focus on the true Christmas story, not its commercialism. I can certainly do that whether HUB, or un-HUBBED.

6) I can’t figure out whether I’m mad or sad but I know the pivot will run its course and I’ll figure it out. This year, I put up very few Christmas things in defiance. No tree, no outdoor lights, nothing. I am a grinch this year. I’m allowed. If I count up all the Christmases where I’ve been the HUB it makes my head hurt. Surprisingly, I don’t miss it that much. I miss my family, but not everything else. Although I like a sweet, blinking tree in the corner and lighted garlands on the mantle and a stunning outdoor display, it is a crazy amount of work. I may scale back the whole thing in the future. I do all that stuff for other people, anyway, not me. Not really.

7) Let go of fairy-tale expectations. Don’t believe the wretched commercials that show spouses receiving a wondrous gift which is responsible for resurrecting marriages and all manner of amazing, positive, results. It’s a commercial. It’s a lie. We are supposed to give gifts to honor the birth of Christ, i.e. wise-men style. When did I make Christmas about what I wanted, to the point that I’m dramatically disappointed if my husband doesn’t get me the perfect gift? A ridiculous expectation. Like…doesn’t he get an E for effort? It also extends to my grandkids and kids…if they don’t like what I’ve gifted them…I’m depressed and feel as if my effort has been wasted. Another lie propagated by those cursed TV commercials. And now they are everywhere! FB, Instagram, Twitter…all social media platforms. It is endless, brainwashing, and dismissive of the true meaning of the season.

It is cold and windy here today, on Hilton Head Island. My kids are preparing for a potential snowbound Christmas, and the one in California prepares for his first Christmas as an ex-husband. My heart aches for him. I wish I could gather all my chicks around me and tell them everything will work out. That everything will be alright. That change is a part of life, and they will adjust.

This year, I take the time to tell myself these things.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


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