Culture

How To Stop Distorting Christmas

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Do you remember the segment on Sesame Street where they presented a zoomed-in view of an ordinary object? Then you were supposed to guess what it was?

You couldn’t recognize it at first, because the camera came in so close, it distorted the picture. The focal point is only one small portion of the object. Its details become the entire picture. Then your mind interprets the part as a whole, and renders it something completely different than it actually is.

That’s what often happens to Christmas. You have to take in the entire picture, to view it clearly and appreciate its true beauty.

If you start planning too soon, you zoom-out too far and all the details seem meaningless. Zoom-in too close, like the days before, and it all becomes distorted.

That’s when we become zeroed-in on one aspect and Christmas is in danger of becoming hollow and superficial, which is the complete opposite of what it is supposed to be — and what children need it to be.

Last minute shopping is the usual default focal point. That’s also when we fall in the trap of over-buying, debt and stress.

Focusing on just the gift aspect doesn’t just do damage to your bank account. I’ve heard more than one person complain, and become hurt, because of the gifts they were given — usually by a spouse.

While that sounds shallow, it’s not. Gifts wrapped in thoughtlessness do more damage than good. Ask the lady whose husband shops at the hardware store three days before Christmas — she’ll tell you who’s selfish.

In “13 Week Countdown To Christmas: When Something’s Just Not Right,” I explained that I love the “feel” of Christmas. I truly enjoy creating an atmosphere in my home that illuminates what Christmas means to our family. However, I get in trouble when I wait to start planning until I get in the mood for Christmas.

With 12 weeks to go, it doesn’t feel a bit like Christmas — frankly, I’m not in the mood yet. But we have the advantage of the right distance to view it with the proper perspective.

Let’s create a Christmas that our families will cherish.

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Write It down And Make It Happen.

1. Pull Out The Calendar.

You don’t need to number the days backward until Christmas. That just adds anxiety.

Instead, mark off the highlights. When do you want to have your decorations up? When are the usual social events you attend (office parties, progressive dinners)? Mark them all on the calendar. Are you expecting a house-guest?

This year I’m doing something really radical. I’m marking off shopping days — I’m going to make them an event and plan for them. I figure if I plan to shop on certain days, I can have a lot of other things in place as well.

For example: If I plan to have seven shopping days sometime between now and Christmas then this far in advance I can plan those days with all the details that will make it an enjoyable trip. That way, it’s in the budget when I need it. I can even plan a meal to pull out of the freezer for dinner for anyone left at home.

The more I think about what goes into making Christmas shopping the more I realize how not putting it on the calendar has created so much stress.

 

2. Make The Most Out Of Each Tradition.

With all the traditions and events on the calendar, we can zoom-in a little closer and look at what would make those days the most memorable.

In days gone by, when the children were little, we used to go and pick out a tree at the local tree farm. Hot chocolate with Kenny G’s Christmas album playing in the background always set the stage for trimming the tree in our house.

This year, I have this secret plan to shop with a thermos full of hot chocolate, and find ways to make shopping feel like a date.

 

3. What Is The Most Important Aspect Of Christmas To You? 

This week I plan on writing out exactly what is the most important aspect of Christmas for my family. It really does require some thought. For example: Family togetherness is the most important thing.

But, the reality is, we won’t all be together this year. So, how will I bridge that gap?

How can I make the family that can come home feel rested and restored instead of frazzled and drained?

These are questions I have to take some time to carefully consider, and then I can make purposeful plans.

 

4. What Needs To Be Done Before The Season Hits?

Overcommitment and a house that needs a good deep cleaning are two of the biggest dampers on my Christmas. Fall cleaning is where I need to start this week.

 

What is your best Christmas memory? 

 

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Photo Credits Shutterstock,  leedsn