Remember when you were a kid and Christmas was simply a blast. You looked forward to it all year long. You started singing Christmas songs right after Thanksgiving. You got all sheepish when you met the big guy in the red suit (or cried because someone put you on some strange, hairy, old guy's lap). You got all excited for every family party because that meant another present. You loved all the chocolate, cookies, and other goodies that were so plentiful. You prayed and prayed for a huge snowstorm to hit so you could have a white Christmas. You woke up a 4am on Christmas morning because you were WAY too excited to sleep.
When exactly does that change?
I don't remember the exact moment it happened, but somewhere along the line things did change. You now save up for it all year long. You get annoyed when you hear Christmas songs on the radio or in stores before Thanksgiving because it stresses you out and you're sick of it being commercialized and mad you saw decorations up in October. Crowds are horrible. You dread pictures with Santa because that means you have to drag the kids to the mall and stand in a long line while trying to keep them from ruining Santa's set and/or getting whiny. You get stressed about every family party because you have to figure out what gift your kids are giving to their cousins. You hate that there is so much yummy junk food that is going straight to your hips (and waist, rear, neck, arms, etc.). You hope it doesn't snow until Christmas day because you still have to drive to and from work. You unplug alarm clocks, blackout windows, and anything else you can think of that will keep the kids in bed another hour on Christmas morning.
This is how I started feeling towards Christmas this year. It made me sad, so I decided to focus on all of the fun things with it. This was the first year we were able to get a picture of our kids with Santa. We are lucky that our kids aren't in school yet, so we went when all the other kids were in school and had no line. We took our kids on a wagon ride to see a light festival. My daughter is learning to find joy in giving gifts. The look on her face when she is given a gift could light up an entire room. Santa is a great parenting tool. Christmas songs are fun to sing at the top of your lungs on the way to work at 6am. Not to mention they are wonderful ways to embarrass your children. Families get together. Neighbors get together. Friends get together.
There are many things to love about Christmas and it is important that we focus on them. I hope you enjoy this time of year and make it about love, sharing, and family rather than about the perfect gifts.