I love Christmas. I really really love Christmas. However, there is one part of Christmas that brings me to almost clinical levels of panic every year. Christmas crap. I know, a professional shouldn’t really say “crap” in a blog post but that’s exactly how I feel about it so authentic we shall be today. For those with gentler sensibilities feel free to call it “Christmas clutter”…it sounds nicer and more British.
Christmas crap is all the tangible stuff that comes with Christmas. It’s the tree that is beautiful but takes up extra space in my living room where I normally would be walking or sitting. It’s the wrapping paper that ends up everywhere and the tape stuck to the carpet. It’s the extra dishes that cover the counters and fill the refrigerator. And it’s the toys. The potentially tiny pieces, battery needing, parent participation, square foot covering, and all too quickly lost interest in, toys.
Now, before you go labeling me as ungrateful, hear me clearly. I know I am speaking from a place of exceptional privilege. My kids have more than what they need and they are going to get more than what they need this Christmas because, well, it just is. They have a lot of people with a lot of privilege in their lives who give them stuff. I am equally grateful and aware of the need to try to educate them that not everyone has what they have. I am going to do my level best to limit what we give them, to educate them on needs vs. wants, to focus on JESUS but folks, this is Christmas in America for this middle-class woman and I know the crap is coming. I’ll keep working on the rest of it the other 360+ days of the year. The point today is making sure my heart is right regardless of the circumstances.
When the crap hits its zenith, usually sometime between the 24th and the 26th I usually find myself in one of two places. One, I am frantically searching my mind and my home for someway and somewhere to put everything away so that I feel better. Or two, I am attempting to find space in my mind and my language to teach my children exceptionally noble lessons about all that they have. Do you know what my children need at that exact moment? Neither of those things. They. Need. Me.
My children are going to remember if I had a wrapping paper war with them or if I am hollering at them because they are interfering with me cleaning up.
My children are going to remember if I put together a painstakingly specific Lego set rather than telling them we’ll do it later once everything settles down.
My children are going to remember if I play their new game with them, cut the 86 zip ties off their new toy, find the screwdriver to put in the battery, or actually participate in their excitement over the toy with the many…many…many tiny pieces because it meant I stopped to be with them, not their stuff.
All the privilege in the world may as well be wasted if we don’t pair it with love. I always tell my kids Christmas is not about receiving gifts. This year I hope I remember that Christmas is also not about my management of those gifts. You have 360+ other days in the year to attend to the rest of it. Be “present.”