The mom frowns as she straightens the stockings over the hearth, mentally running down an endless To Do list. She notices her son sitting in the corner staring at the fireplace. “Mom, will you help me write a letter to Santa?” he asks. “Of course,” she says, “Do you want to tell him your list?”
“I want to tell him not to come,” he answers.
You want the truth about holiday hesitation? I think you can handle it.
The year my youngest son asked if we could write a letter to Santa telling him not to come, my maternal life flashed before my eyes. Boy, it looked like I had really done it this time.
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Had my holiday hesitation spilled over into my family’s experience? It made me cringe to think so. I began to consider my recent seasonal transgressions:
First, there was my tendency to moan and groan about the gangbuster arrival of the Christmas season. In my defense, Christmas displays and music appear immediately following Halloween; who can blame my unenthusiastic reaction? Come on, people! Let’s focus on Thanksgiving first – especially since my brother and sister-in-law host that gathering. All I have to do is run the Turkey Trot with my crew, show up for the big meal, and try not to let the guilt suffocate me. Oh, and also plan to take my turn at Christmas . . .
Was my son in the room when I picked up my laptop and threatened to throw it out the window? I am pretty sure the dog was the only one who witnessed those antics. Of course, he might have heard me hollering at my Inbox, as it refilled precipitously with holiday deals and incredible offers and free shipping if ordered in the next five minutes and exclusive opportunities just for me that I wouldn’t have been surprised if the whole system just crashed under the weight of my potential consumerism.
Speaking of which, perhaps he witnessed my panic attack after shoving yet another mysterious brown box into the back room where I’d set up the wrapping supplies on a card table. How many boxes were in there, anyway? Didn’t we absolutely agree to dial it down this year? Funny, I know other times I have felt a real joy in gift giving. Why does that feeling often escape me at Christmas?
Did I freak out during Christmas tree family time? It is entirely possible. I do remember hollering at the boys to stop chasing each other around the Christmas tree lot; I hit drill sergeant mode more than once regarding what decoration went where; I am certain I mentioned, ah, just a few times that I had hauled ALL of the boxes down from the attic with all of the decorations, could they settle down for just a minute and get serious about getting them from the box to the tree? Because everyone knows that Christmas is serious business! What, you thought this was supposed to be fun?
Maybe he saw me begin to cry at the women’s Christmas communion service. No, impossible – he wasn’t there then, when the peaceful sanctuary and the beautiful music all became too much for me. When my heart was truly full – thankful for the blessings in my life, hurting for those I loved who were suffering that season, nostalgic for all the people and places of Christmas past. Humbled by the gifts of faith and grace – and how easy it was to be distracted from the point of it all.
I decided I had better just face the music as to why my son wanted to un-invite Santa this year.
“Oh, I want him to come,” he clarified emphatically when I asked for more details. “I just want him to come through the front door. I do NOT like that chimney idea at all. That is scary. Do you think he’d mind?”
I confirmed that he would not mind at all. How funny that my son would have such a crazy Christmas worry – I suppose the apple does not fall far from the tree. We all may have moments that give us pause during the hectic holiday season, but the truth is, when it comes to appreciating the true spirit of Christmas, there is no time like the present.
Want to get a better handle on holiday hesitation? Revel in Christmas crazy with this classic from Robert Earl Keen, celebrate the imperfect holiday with Holidazed by Tracy Curtis, and if you are truly overwhelmed, utilize these tips from the Mayo Clinic to stay healthy during the holiday season.