I love Christmas. I always have. When I was a child, I didn't understand why Christmas Day had to end. I thought time should just stop and it should stay Christmas forever.
When I became an adult, and when I became a mom, I wanted Christmas to be just as special for my son. I worked so hard to make everything just right. Everything had to be just so. The year Cody was 4, I stressed myself out so much trying to make things absolutely perfect. After I put him to bed that Christmas night, I breathed a sigh of relief, and thought, "I'm so glad that's over."
I sat there in my living room, shocked at the thoughts I was having. How did I get from wishing Christmas would never end to being glad it was over? I swore I'd never feel that way again. That was the year that I took a step back and stopped trying to make Christmas about the things. I stopped stressing myself out so much and took a much more relaxed attitude towards the holiday.
If we only have three different kinds of cookies instead of 7, then three will be enough. If I only make two kinds of candy instead of 6, then two will be enough. If I don't get every inch of the house decorated, then a tree and a nativity will be enough.
That was the year Christmas became fun again. That was the year the joy returned.
I know people who hate Christmas. They hate everything about it. To them, it's a time of stress and societal pressure and unrealistic expectations. It breaks my heart to hear people talking like this. I pray that someday these people can break out of the trap that nearly ensnared me all those years go.
I pray that they can approach the manger, and remember -- as Linus told us -- what Christmas is all about.